Saturday, August 11, 2018

Negative health effects of alcohol revisited

That alcohol has negative health is a fact known to all. Yet, excessive alcohol consumption, which includes binge drinking and heavy drinking, is very prevalent and is becoming a public health problem.

As per WHO estimates, worldwide, 3.3 million (~6%) deaths every year result from harmful use of alcohol. The harmful use of alcohol is a causal factor in more than 200 disease and injury conditions. The latest causal relationships have been established between harmful drinking and incidence of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis as well as the course of HIV/AIDS. Overall 5.1 % of the global burden of disease and injury is attributable to alcohol, as measured in disability- adjusted life years (WHO).

Here is a recap of the harmful health effects of alcohol, including social effects, which not only affect the individual, but also the family, friends and society.

The short term health risks include

  • Injuries, especially from drunk driving, falls, burns; often, homicides and suicides are also alcohol-related
  • People, especially younger people, may engage in risky sexual behavior or use other drugs or other acts of violence under the influence of alcohol.
  • Alcohol poisoning or acute alcohol intoxication of time is a medical emergency due to drinking too much alcohol over a short period
  • In pregnant women, miscarriage or stillbirth or fetal alcohol syndrome

Drinking too much alcohol over a long period of time may lead to chronic diseases.

  • Liver disease: Cirrhosis, leading to liver failure requiring a liver transplant
  • High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, heart failure
  • Dementia and behavioral disorders
  • Alcohol has been linked to seven types of cancer: Mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, colon and rectum, breast. Alcohol may also increase the risk of cancers of the stomach and pancreas.
  • Higher risk of depression, anxiety, and addiction leading to  relationship problems, poor social interactions,  unemployment and financial problems
  • Alcohol dependence

(Source: Harvard, CDC, WHO)

Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri Awardee
Vice President CMAAO
Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications
President Heart Care Foundation of India
Immediate Past National President IMA

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