Going sober for the month of October is a campaign held by Macmillan Cancer support. Raising funds for people living with cancer is a great motive but you will also benefit from it! Let’s discuss how alcohol causes havoc on the body.
Alcohol can have both short and long-term effects on the body. After drinking 4 to 6 units, your brain, and nervous system start to be affected. It begins with affecting your judgement and decision-making. Alcohol also impairs neurons, making you light-headed and affecting your balance and coordination. With the consumption of even more alcohol, your speech will start to slur. Your liver which functions in filtering alcohol out of the body will be working in overdrive from a night of heavy drinking. You will most likely wake up with a hangover due to the liver not being able to filter all of the alcohol in time.
Alcohol enters the bloodstream, meaning many of our vital organs such as the heart and brain are exposed to concentrations of alcohol. The liver is exposed to a greater concentration of alcohol as it receives blood directly from the stomach and small intestines. More than 90% of alcohol is eliminated in the liver. Alcohol is broken down by alcohol dehydrogenase into a substance called acetate which the body can remove.
As most of us know, the liver succumbs to a lot of damage thanks to alcohol.
Fatty liver disease is when there is a build-up of fat in the liver due to a period of excessive drinking. This damage can be reversed if alcohol is not consumed for at least two weeks, this gives the liver time to regenerate and process the fats.
Cirrhosis is the scarring of the liver, this damage is irreversible. This occurs when the liver is inflamed and there is a build-up of scar tissue. This scar tissue makes it harder for the liver to function normally and remove toxins such as alcohol. As a result of this liver damage, a person can experience jaundice where the whites of the eyes and skin turn yellow due to high levels of bilirubin in the body.
From just drinking one to two units of alcohol you might notice your heart rate temporarily increase and you become flushed, this is due to the explanation of the blood vessels. However, excessive drinking can cause a rise in blood pressure, which puts a strain on your heart and can lead to the development of heart disease. This strain can be so great it can weaken the heart muscle and cardiomyopathy. Drinking also increases your cholesterol levels, this build-up of cholesterol can lead to stroke or a heart attack.
Excessive alcohol consumption can cause cognitive deficiency. Causing problems with memory, processing information, decision-making, and emotions. Extreme alcohol consumption can also cause the brain to shrink.
Heavy drinking also affects the immune system. It is associated with lower levels of white blood cells, and lymphocytes. This will make you at greater risk for bacterial and viral infections.
As you can see, alcohol does a lot of damage to the body. So go Sober this October and see how refreshed you will be in a months time!
If you're interested in learning more about the human body, get your tickets to The Post Mortem Live! The UK's only live body dissection experience!