Alcohol and your health

What you should know about the health risks of alcohol

Many Australians enjoy having a drink.  When consumed in moderation, it can form part of an enjoyable and healthy lifestyle that includes good diet and exercise. On the other hand, drinking in excess can have harmful effects on your health, and is believed to increase your risk to a number of diseases and infections.

While we don’t fully understood when alcohol’s health benefits outweigh its risks, we know that anything in excess of moderation is likely to cancel its health benefits. Remember, it’s not just the amount of alcohol but the pattern of drinking that’s also important. 

On this site, you can find out more about how alcohol may affect your physical, social and mental health. 

Alcohol slows down the central nervous system – which in turn impacts on almost all the body’s cells and systems. Alcohol misuse may cause alcohol related brain impairment (ARBI) or brain injury.

Alcohol irritates the stomach lining which can bring on nausea, vomiting and sometimes diarrhoea. Long term heavy drinking has been associated with increased risk of stomach cancer.

Regularly drinking to excess may result in a fatty liver which can adversely affect your liver function.

Continued heavy or excessive drinking may result in the liver becoming inflamed causing alcoholic hepatitis or permanent liver scarring (Cirrhosis).

Alcohol is a diuretic – meaning it acts on the kidneys to make you urinate more often. Drinking too much alcohol means that your kidneys have to work harder to remove toxins from your blood.

Male Reproducitve Systems:

Drinking alcohol can decrease sex drive and performance. Alcohol also reduces the amount of testosterone in the blood with heavy consumption of alcohol increasing risk of male fertility problems.

Female Reproductive Systems:

Drinking heavy or excessive amounts of alcohol affects a woman’s menstrual cycle and ovulation. This makes it difficult for her to conceive a baby.

Alcohol dehydrates your body and this includes the skin – your body’s largest organ. Over time, drinking heavily can have other, more permanent and detrimental effects on your skin.

Long-term and heavy alcohol consumption can increase your risk of developing heart disease.

Drinking at this level increases the risk of high blood pressure, weakening of heart muscle and heart failure.

Continuous and excessive heavy drinking can lead to alcohol pancreatitis where the primary breakdown product of alcohol (acetaldehyde) damages blood vessels, cells and tissue

Alcohol is often linked with bowel irritation and can trigger symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

Alcohol can temporarily suppress the immune system so that you are both susceptible to illness and your ability to fight it.

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