Long-term Effects of Alcohol

Topics: Alcoholism, Alcohol abuse, Alcoholic beverage Pages: 20 (5881 words) Published: October 31, 2013
Long-term effects of alcohol
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Long-term effects of alcohol
Classification and external resources

Disability-adjusted life year for alcohol use disorders per 100,000 inhabitants in 2004.   no data
  less than 50
  more than 1050

Total recorded alcohol per capita consumption (15+), in litres of pure alcohol[1]

Most significant of the possible long-term effects of ethanol. Consumption of alcohol by pregnant mothers may result in fetal alcohol syndrome. The long-term effects of alcohol (ethanol) consumption range from cardioprotective health benefits for low to moderate alcohol consumption in industrialized societies with higher rates of cardiovascular disease[2][3] to severe detrimental effects in cases of chronic alcohol abuse.[4] High levels of alcohol consumption are associated with an increased risk of alcoholism, malnutrition, chronic pancreatitis, alcoholic liver disease, and cancer. In addition damage to the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system can occur from chronic alcohol abuse.[5][6] Long-term use of alcohol in excessive quantities is capable of damaging nearly every organ and system in the body.[7] The developing adolescent brain is particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of alcohol.[8] In addition, the developing fetal brain is also vulnerable, and fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) may result if pregnant mothers consume alcohol. The inverse relation in Western cultures between alcohol consumption and cardiovascular disease has been known for over 100 years.[9] There has been reluctance by many physicians, however, to promote alcohol consumption given the many concerns associated with chronic alcohol abuse. Some even suggest that alcohol should be regarded as a recreational drug, and prefer exercise and good nutrition to combat cardiovascular disease.[10][11] Others have argued that the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption may be outweighed by other increased risks, including those of injuries, violence, fetal damage, liver disease, and certain forms of cancer.[12] The adverse effects of long-term excessive use of alcohol are close to those seen with other sedative-hypnotics (apart from organ toxicity which is much more problematic with alcohol). Withdrawal effects and dependence are also almost identical.[13] Alcohol at moderate levels has some positive and negative effects on health. The negative effects include increased risk of liver diseases, oropharyngeal cancer, esophageal cancer and pancreatitis. Conversely moderate intake of alcohol may have some beneficial effects on gastritis and cholelithiasis.[14] Chronic alcohol misuse and abuse has serious effects on physical and mental health. Chronic excess alcohol intake, or alcohol dependence, can lead to a wide range of neuropsychiatric or neurological impairment, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, and malignant neoplasms. The psychiatric disorders which are associated with alcoholism include major depression, dysthymia, mania, hypomania, panic disorder, phobias, generalized anxiety disorder, personality disorders, schizophrenia, suicide, neurologic deficits (e.g. impairments of working memory, emotions, executive functions, visuospatial abilities and gait and balance) and brain damage. Alcohol dependence is associated with hypertension, coronary heart disease, and ischemic stroke, cancer of the respiratory system, and also cancers of the digestive system, liver, breast and ovaries. Heavy drinking is associated with liver disease, such as cirrhosis.[15] Excessive alcohol consumption can have a negative impact on aging.[16] Recent studies have focused on understanding the mechanisms by which moderate alcohol consumption confers cardiovascular benefit.[17] One study has suggested a beneficial effect of alcohol on patients with...
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