Long Term Effects of Alcohol

The cumulative effects of excessive alcohol consumption, especially when associated with a poor diet, affect every part of the body. The two main sites of damage are the liver and the nervous system.The liver may become progressively damaged through a condition known as cirrhosis, which may lead to liver failure, liver cancer and death.

The nervous system may be damaged at many levels. Damage to the brain can interfere with intellectual function, and increase the risk of anxiety and depression, confusion and  dementia. Damage to the peripheral nervous system can lead to loss of balance, impotence, numbness of the feet and hands, tremor and blindness. Alcoholism is also implicated in diabetes, inflammation of the pancreas, internal bleeding, weakening of the heart, high blood pressure and stroke.

 The Cancer Connection

According to KJ Patel from Cambridge University, Alcohol is a well-established cancer causing agent, he says.

“You cannot get a cancer cell occurring unless DNA is altered. When you drink, the acetaldehyde is corrupting the DNA of life and puts you on the road to cancer.

The Impact of Alcohol in the UK

  • 5% of suicide attempts are linked to heavy drinking
  • Alcohol is a factor in 20-30% of accidents
  • In 11% of cases alcohol consumption is the main cause of men’s high blood pressure, which is a major factor relating to coronary heart disease and stroke
  • Teenage pregnancy – 40% of 13-14 year olds were drunk when they first experienced sexual intercourse
  • Alcohol is costing the NHS around £3 billion a year
  • Up to 30% male admissions and 15% female admissions to general surgical and medical wards have alcohol related problems

(Source: NHS)

The Impact of Alcohol Worldwide

Alcohol causes 2.5 million deaths a year, which represents 3.7% of all deaths worldwide and is the 3rd major cause of death in developed countries (Source: WHO). In developing countries where overall mortality is low, alcohol is the leading cause of illness and disease. Damage to human life can be described in terms of loss of “disability-adjusted life years – DALYs. This measure takes into account the number of years lost due to premature deaths plus the years spent living with disability.

Worldwide, alcohol causes a loss of almost 54 million DALYs annually, which is about 4% of the total loss of DALYs from all causes. Mental disorders and diseases of the nervous system account for 40% of DALYs lost because of alcohol.

In addition over 76 million people are currently affected by alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse.

In the UK over 50 million people drink alcohol (Source: NHS), only 5 million do not. Alcotox will benefit anyone who drinks alcohol, even in moderate amounts and not only people who drink to intoxication levels.Alcohol is thought to be responsible for 34,000 deaths in the UK each year because of the damage it does to the body, plus many more deaths due to the indirect effect of alcohol on others.

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