Metabolism of Alcohol

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Matt Feldman
Mr. Mosher
AP Bio
12/6/2012

The Metabolism of Alcohol
This article describes the process the liver undergoes to breakdown the alcohol in your blood stream. Also it discusses the consequences of heavy drinking and the damage it causes to your body.

The only cells in our body that can metabolize ethanol are in our liver. In the cells NAD+ oxidizes the ethanol to acetic acid, which generates an excess amount of NADH, which gives its electrons to the ETC. Then Oxidative phosphorylation occurs without the Krebs cycle. The carbohydrates that normally enter the Krebs cycle are turned to fat because the Krebs cycle is turned off. The fat is then secreted by the liver into the blood. The ethanol enters our bloodstream through our intestines into the bloodstream faster than our body can detoxify it. Then the blood is carried through our bloodstream to our brain which is highly vulnerable to the damages that the ethanol may cause. Also it is carried throughout our entire body. If a person is a heavy drinker they are at a high risk of developing cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is a condition where the pores in the liver fill up with fat and it is no longer able to function and becomes heavily scarred. One the liver is no longer able to metabolize the alcohol it makes the other parts of the body more susceptible to damage that heavy drinking may cause. Cirrhosis is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

However our ability to metabolize ethanol shows that we are able to adapt to our surroundings. Alcohol is a chemical that we can obtain energy from and our bodies rarely ever waste energy because we constantly need an input of energy to survive. However we have evolved so that we cannot tolerate a severe variation in our diet for a long period of time.

After reading this article I have learned the detailed process the liver has to go through to break down alcohol. Also I have learned that heavily consuming alcohol can...
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