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Alcohol the Risks And Health Benefits

Updated on January 30, 2014

Glass of red wine

Glass of red wine
Glass of red wine | Source

Alcohol the risks and benefits

Alcohol includes all fermented beverages such as Beer, Sprits and wines; they contain various levels of ethanol which provides the feeling of intoxication. Over the years there has been a growing debate on the gains and pains of alcohol consumption, the benefits and all too real dangers of the drug. The different scientific studies underline the benefits of moderate drinking in relation to heavy drinkers or downright addiction - in order to understand the facts we must first of all establish the levels termed as moderate.

What is moderate drinking?

Moderate alcohol intake is also a thing of debate between scholars but they all come to similar conclusions that in most cases 10 to 14 ounces of Beer, 4 to 6 ounces of wine and 1ounces of hard liquor (spirits) that contain alcohol should not be exceeded, 15 grams can be an acceptable level and can be said to be a moderate level of alcoholic consumption. Alcohol consumption has many documented advantages and disadvantages that are almost incontestable; weighing them against each other is another thing entirely. The question is does the advantages out weigh the disadvantages or vise versa it is all up to the drinker to decide, highlighted bellow are the advantages and disadvantages in alcohol consumption.

Benefits/advantages of alcohol consumption

There are some surprising benefits of moderate consumption of alcohol some of which are

1 Cardiovascular benefits. The most interesting and surprising but not utterly unscientific reason is that moderate drinkers have cardiovascular benefits. Studies have found out that moderate drinkers have high levels of lipoprotein represented as HDL which is known to provide greater protection to the heart, it helps fight of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, cardiac death, blood clot that could potentially cause stroke and other peripheral muscular diseases.

2 Type 2 diabetes. Moderate consumption of alcohol has been found to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes which is a life threatening and dangerous disease. Type2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes that causes blood glucose levels to get higher than it normally should and is referred to as hyperglycemia. The deficiency of insulin is made up by the pancreas which replaces it until such a time it is unable to perform this function effectively and the body is unable to process the insulin adequately, underlining health related complications like eye, foot numbness, regular sickness and high blood pressure.

3 Regulate blood pressure. Another surprising effect of moderate drinking is the ability to reduce the causative factors that lead to high blood pressure. Blood pressure that is too high could be pre hypertension/hypertension/emergency or too low hypotension can be fatal. Hypertension is simply the pressure on the arteries during blood circulation upon the blood vessel walls it is a very serious condition that can lead to heart failure, coronary heart disease, and stroke including kidney failure.

Desired level of blood pressure in adults

Hypotension less90 less60

Desired level 90 119

Pre-hypertension 120 139

Hypertension 140 159

Emergency 180 110

4 Blood clot. The scientists found out that another factor that is directly associated with moderate drinking of alcohol is the affect on arteries, scientists confirmed that moderate drinking can affect the blood coagulation by thinning the blood this inadvertently aids circulation especially to sensitive areas like the brain, neck and definitely the heart. The problem with blood thinning is that can cause hasten blood injuries which may have fatal consequences.

5 Other effects and benefits are improvement in blood lipid reduces platelet aggregation and reduces blood clot (fibrinogen) in the arteries.

Although the benefits highlighted above may be compelling the risks and dangers of excessive consumption of the drug is really frightening, all the benefits listed have a flip side to high levels of alcohol intake have elevated risks like liver disease, heart failure and cancer.

Which is not a derivative of heavy alcohol consumption.

See results

Summary on benefits of moderate alcohol drinking

1 lower risks of cardiovascular disease to 40%

2 reduces cardiac deaths

3 reduces the prevalence of blood clotting

4 reduces peripheral vascular diseases

5 lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes

6 lowers high blood pressure

7 higher density of good lipoprotein

8 better sensitivity to insulin

9 moderates existing cardiovascular disease

Moderate drinking requirement

10 to 14 ounces
1 ounce
6 ounces

A mug of beer

A mug of beer
A mug of beer | Source

Risks and dangers of excessive alcohol intake

The risks may out weigh the benefits let us examine some of them

1 Heart Failure. The risk of heart failure is very real in people who consume a lot of alcohol, the high level of consumption leads to high level of fat in the blood this condition is called triglycerides, and they can cause high blood pressure which in turn leads to heart failure. Some symptoms of heart failure are shortness of breadth, hypertension and swollen joints/legs

2 Obesity. Alcohol can make one obese with all the underlining negative effects of the condition, too much alcohol combined with a lazy life style and too much fatty food will surely make the drinker overweight, obesity could lead to diabetes in some cases.

3 Stroke. Excessive alcohol intake can cause stroke which in turn can translate into cardiac arrest. Stroke occurs when the brain cells experience a sudden lack of oxygen and glucose which leads to a rapid loss of brain function which could cause disability and death.

4 Live disease. Liver disease is a real threat in heavy drinkers this is a serious disease that could lead to a life time of suffering and even death. There are many kinds of liver disease some caused by viruses like hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C some from careless use of powerful drugs or over consumption of alcohol; the liver has scar tissues called cirrhosis which may lead to sever damage of the organ. The liver which is the largest inner organ that regulates toxins in our body when damaged can become a deadly issue. Some common symptoms are vomiting nausea, abdominal pain, yellowing of the skin (jaundice and general body weakness.

5 High Level of Cholesterol. Over drinking can cause high and dangerous levels of limpid which in turn creates high levels of cholesterol in the body, cholesterol is fat carried in the blood stream too much fat could damage your heart causing heart disease palpitation and heart attack unhealthy levels actually raises the risk of type 2 diabetes.

6 Cancer. Heavy drinking has been associated with breast cancer, this finding by scientist declares binge drinking a risk factor in breast cancer. Nine percent of women who consume more than 1 unit of alcohol a day stand a higher chance of developing breast cancer than women who limit their intake to one unit. What scientists found could be the causative factors are

# increased estrogen levels

# The increased risk of the DNA in mammary glands getting damaged

# A possibility of increase and growth of cancer cells

# increased chances of mammary carcinogenesis

7 Stomach damage. The stomach being put through the process of receiving large quantities of alcohol damages the lining of the walls are thinned and it would be unable to carry out its normal functions, some symptoms of stomach damage are abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding internally or even develop into acute gastritis

8 Gallbladder damage. The gallbladders function is to filter out toxins in the body, excessive consumption of alcohol can affect the gallbladder, this happens when the liver has to handle lager quantity of alcohol it affect the gallbladder which may swell and cause the liver to also swell beginning a very dangerous process.

9 Brain damage. There is an increased chance of brain damage to over exposure to alcohol; alcohol increases the chances of brain impairment, brain injury, damage to the brain cells and increased chances of memory loss.

10 Pregnant women. The danger of binge drinking when pregnant is very real it could cause very serious dependency in the infant, underweight baby and serious birth defects.

Summary of dangers of heavy alcohol drinking

1 liver damage

2 bad lipo protein

3 heart damage

4 heart disease

5 gallbladder disease/damage

6 kidney damage

7 increases the risk of cancer of the breast

8 stomach damage

9 brain damage

10 pre mature aging

11 dangerous for unborn child

There are other factors that contribute to the dangers of high alcohol drinking some of which are

Violence. Excessive alcohol intake has been linked to several violent acts, because of the impaired reasoning during the toxic high the subjects sometimes tend to become violent, which could also lead to crime such as rape, theft and in extreme cases murder. Accident. Binge drinkers cause 40% of road accidents around the world; the impaired judgment because of too much alcohol has been the cause of countless deaths. Other factors are poor coordination, depressing, mood swings and in extreme cases suicide.

Weighing the benefits and dangers associated with drinking is a tough task but the individual is faced with a dilemma either to drink or not, if you can keep alcohol to a decent level of 1 cup every other day or non at all you would be fine. Despite all the glossy advertisement and reviews we must be mindful that alcohol is a drug and as all drugs go over use is deadly and dangerous to our health.


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    • tony55 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Nigeria

      looks like we like almost the same kind of topics, read your hub on detox , nice article.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      5 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Well written hub!

      You have pointed out the health benefits of moderate Alcohol consumption and risk factors due to excessive drinking, very nicely. Too much of anything is bad and this applies to Alcohol too.

      Very nice, useful and informative hub! Thanks!


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