Essay, Research Paper
Some Effects of Alcohol on the Body
Alcohol can be helpful or harmful to the body depending upon the amount of alcohol consumed. Drinking in moderation increases life expectancy, reduces the likely hood of heart attacks and other diseases. Heavy drinking can lead to poor nutrition, liver disorders, strokes or heart attacks, and effect sexual desire and offspring.
Although alcohol is usually considered harmful there is growing evidence of health benefits associated with moderate alcohol consumption, approximately one to three drinks per day. A recent study at Harvard found that moderate drinkers tend to live longer than those who either abstain or drink heavily. The study found the risk of death from all causes to be twenty-one to twenty-eight percent lower among men who drank alcohol moderately, compared to abstainers. Furthermore, in a larger study of about 88,000 people conducted over a period of ten years found that moderate drinkers were about twenty seven percent less likely to die during the period. This was largely due to a reduction of such diseases as coronary heart disease, cancer, and respiratory diseases. (Alcohol and Health)
Moderate drinkers of alcohol are less likely to suffer heart attacks than those who abstain or heavily drink. Research conducted from 1900 to 1986 found a strong, consistent relationship between moderate alcohol consumption and reduction in cardiovascular disease, the number one killer in American. Harvard researchers have identified the moderate consumption of alcohol as a proven way to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. These researchers concluded, “Consumption of one or two drinks of beer, wine, or liquor per day has corresponded to a reduction in risk of approximately twenty to forty percent.” Alcohol can improve blood lipid profile by increasing HDL “good” cholesterol and lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol. Alcohol has also been found to reduce blood pressure and blood insulin levels and to increase coronary blood flow and estrogen levels. Moderate drinking reduces platelet aggregation and fibrinogen, a type of blood clotter. It also increases fibrinolysis, the process by which clots dissolve. Therefore, alcohol has an overall effect on blood clotting, or thrombosis.
The moderate consumption of alcohol appears beneficial to reducing or preventing diseases such as stroke and hypertension. According to a recent study in the American Heart Association’s journal, moderate drinkers are half as likely to suffer a stoke as abstainers. A recent Harvard University study found the lowest levels of hypertension among young adults who consumed one to three drinks per day. Sensible drink also benefits diseases such as diabetes, liver disease, pancreatic cancer, the common cold, and many more. (Alcohol and Health) As evidence has shown, alcohol is helpful to the body if consumed responsibly.
On the other hand, alcohol has many detrimental effects on the body if consumption is not controlled. Alcohol enters the blood stream through the stomach or intestines. Then the blood sends the alcohol to all the tissues in the body. Large amounts of alcohol cause an increase to the amount of hydrochloric acid, a digestive juice that is secreted from the stomach lining. (Houghton, p.373) If alcohol combines with other irritants such as aspirin can cause gastritis, ulcers, and severe bleeding. Intoxicating amounts of alcohol causes the digestive process to stop, robbing the body of vital vitamins and minerals. (Florida) Thus many alcoholics suffer from poor nutrition. (Houghton, p.373)
Heavy drinkers are likely to develop liver disorders such as fatty liver, Alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis of the liver. Fatty liver gets its name from the deposits of fat that build up in normal liver cells. This disease goes into affect when thirty to fifty percent or more of the drinker dietary calories consist of alcohol. This then causes a decrease in the breakdown of fatty acids by the liver. Alcoholic hepatitis often follows a severe or prolonged usage of heavy drinking and usually reversible with abstinence from alcohol. This disease causes the liver to become inflamed, damaging many liver cells, and metabolism becomes seriously disturbed. It can causes symptoms such as skin color disfiguration, weakness, nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, mild fever, dark urine, and mild weight loss. (Florida) In some cases, alcoholic hepatitis precedes alcoholic cirrhosis. Cirrhosis of the liver is a serious condition in which there is a major destruction of liver cells and scar-tissue builds-up in place of living cells. (Houghton, p.374) One out of every ten long-term heavy drinks will develop cirrhosis of the liver. This person will most likely die within five years because of the irreversible damaged that cirrhosis causes. (Florida) Liver cancer, too, is more common among heavy drinkers than among other people. (Houghton, p.374)
Heavy amounts of alcohol can increase the risk of strokes and heart attacks. Large intakes of alcohol are an important factor in causing high blood pressure and an enlargement of the heart. (Florida) The heart muscle is also weakened by the toxic effect of alcohol, which causes scar tissue to build up between the small fibers of the heart muscle. (Houghton, p. 374)
Effects of heavy alcohol uses includes missed menstrual periods in women and diminishes sexual desire and possible sterility in men. A woman who drinks alcohol during pregnancy risks the health of her unborn child. (Florida) According to Houghton Mifflin’s Health, studies have proven that if a pregnant woman has one to two drinks a day, there is a fourteen percent risk that her baby will be deformed. These are only a few consequences to heavy drinking, not to including alcoholism and its number of effects.
In conclusion, alcohol can be both helpful and dangerous to the body depending if the person who consumes it is a heavy or moderate drinker. A Russian Proverb states, “All of the many health benefits of drinking apply only to moderate consumption—never heavy drinking. To the contrary, heavy drinking is associated with reduced longevity and increased risk of a diversity of diseases. Unfortunately, there really can be too much of a good thing” (Alcohol and Health, p.12)
Alcohol and Health; “Alcohol: Problems & Solutions Site”; http://www.potsdam.edu/alcohol-info/Health/Health.html
Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association; “Resources”; http://www.fadaa.org/resource/justfact/alcohol.html
Houghton Mifflin; Health; Revised edition; Boston; 1989
Sarah Ruth Liska
March 27, 2001
Some Effects of Alcohol on the Body
Thesis Statement: Alcohol can be helpful or harmful to the body depending upon the amount of alcohol consumed.
I. There is growing evidence of health benefits associated with moderate consumption of alcohol.
A. A recent study at Harvard found that moderate drinkers tend to live longer than those who either abstain or drink heavily.
B. Another study found that moderate drinkers were less likely to die.
II. Moderate drinkers of alcohol are less likely to suffer heart attacks.
A. Moderate alcohol consumption and reduction in cardiovascular disease are consistently related.
B. It also has been proven to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
C. Alcohol can improve blood lipid profile.
D. It also has an overall effect on blood clotting, thrombosis.
1. It reduces platelet aggregation and fibrinogen.
2. It also increases fibrinolysis.
III. The moderate consumption of alcohol appears beneficial to reducing and preventing diseases.
A. Moderate drinkers are half as likely to suffer to a stoke as abstainers.
B. Hypertension is at its lowest levels in young adults who are moderate drinkers.
C. It also benefits to other diseases.
IV. Alcohol has many detrimental effects on the body if consumption is not controlled.
A. Alcohol enters the blood stream through the stomach sending it to all the tissues.
B. Large amounts of alcohol can cause secreting from the stomach lining causing different symptoms.
C. Intoxicating amounts of alcohol causes many alcoholics to suffer from poor nutrition.
V. Heavy drinkers are likely to develop liver disorders.
A. Fatty liver causes a decrease in the breakdown of fatty acids in the liver.
B. Alcoholic hepatitis damages many liver cells and can cause various symptoms.
C. Cirrhosis of the liver is a serious condition that will likely turn into death.
D. Liver cancer is also common among heavy drinkers.
VI. Heavy amounts of alcohol can increase the risk of strokes and heart attacks.
A. It can cause high blood pressure and enlargement to the heart.
B. The heart muscle is also weakened by alcohol.
VII. Effects of heavy alcohol use includes missed periods and lessens sexual desires for women and possible sterility in men.
A. A woman who drinks while pregnant risks the health of her unborn child.
B. It is proven that this will cause a fourteen percent risk that the unborn child will be deformed.
Conclusion: Alcohol can be both helpful and dangerous to the body depending if the person who consumes it is a heavy or moderate drinker.