16 Sep 2017
Alcohol Effects on Health

How Alcohol Impacts Our Health

There has been a lot of research about the health effects of drinking alcohol. We see it on social media and popular blogs quite a bit. One study shows a drink a day is good for the heart, and another pops up that finds alcohol increases risk of heart attack. The truth is that we don’t entirely know the effects of alcohol on our bodies. Let’s take a look at a few interesting studies and ways in which alcohol may impact the body.

First, let’s just mention that regular drinking in large amounts is harmful across the board. Alcoholism is a killer, and can impact the liver, brain, stomach, and the entire body. Withdrawal from alcohol may result in delirium tremens, coma, or even death. The alcohol withdrawal timeline and symptoms may vary from individual to individual, but alcohol can be quite dangerous.

In these studies, we’re discussing moderate and low-quantity drinking. We will cover the amount of alcohol being consumed with these studies, but want to be clear that drinking alcohol regularly is absolutely not healthy!




Alcohol and Heart Health

In one study, people who consumed three to five alcoholic drinks a week were at a decreased risk of dying from deep vein thrombosis. This was especially true for middle-aged women. Furthermore, the study suggests that moderate alcohol consumption may decrease the risk of coronary heart disease and ischemic stroke. On the other hand, drinking too much can cause cardiomyopathy, or disease of the muscles in the heart.

Fighting Fat

A study in 2010 found that women who drink regularly in moderation are less likely to gain weight than those that binge occasionally. This study looked at women who drank a drink a day or less, and compared effects with those who drank multiple drinks in a night. The researchers suggest that this control of weight is due to the body’s ability to metabolize alcohol. When we binge drink, our bodies are unable to process all the alcohol. This can cause alcohol poisoning or severe side effects.

Brain Effects Alcohol

Brain Function

A study by Loyola University found that moderate drinking may reduce risk of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s. The study was conducted in 2011, and found a signfiicant difference between moderate drinkers and non-drinkers. Those who drank wine were most likely to reap cognitive benefits. On the other hand, drinking too much can cause severe and long lasting problems with brain function, and drinking in moderation during teen years can stunt brain development. Researchers believe alcohol improves cognitive function when consumed in moderation by adults because it increases blood flow to the brain and can toughen up our brain cells.

Cancer

A recent study suggests that any alcohol consumption is bad for cancer. Even in moderation, alcohol can increase risk of many types of cancer. Contrary to popular belief, there are downsides like this to even moderate alcohol consumption.

Other Possible Health Effects

Other studies have found that moderate alcohol drinking (less than one drink a day) may decrease risk of developing gallstones and Type 2 Diabetes. A light drink before a meal can also help aid in the digestive process. One big argument for the consumption of alcohol is that those who drink moderately often cite alcohol as a form of relaxing at the end of the day, connecting with others, and promoting psychological well-being.




A Note on Research Funding

It’s worth noting that many of the studies that show alcohol is beneficial for our health are funded by popular beer and liquor companies. As the New York Times points out in a recent piece, these studies are often contributed money by huge alcohol companies. Almost $70 million was gifted to the National Institutes of Health for one clinical trial in which costs were expected to be around $100 million. For what it’s worth, this is interesting to consider when taking a look at what the research says.

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