How alcohol affects your body

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Drinking alcohol can be bad for your health in quite a few ways, especially if you’re drinking too much over a long time.

You may find this a sobering read, but here are some of the major risks.

Mental health

Booze can cause anxiety, stress and other mental health issues. It affects the brain’s smooth operation and the more you drink, the more you’re likely to feel low or nervous. It also interferes with sleep and can leave you feeling sluggish and grumpy.

Weight gain

Alcoholic drinks are often high in calories and cause weight gain. Fat tends to go to the belly, especially in men. This can be dangerous, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia.

Heart issues

Even just a couple of pints on a regular basis can lead to weakening of your heart and narrower arteries. It gets harder for the heart to pump blood around the body, causing higher blood pressure. This can lead to blood clots, strokes and brain damage.

Stomach problems

Booze can interfere with the way your stomach works, causing acid to damage your stomach lining and the muscles around it. If you drink too much, too often you may also get more severe issues like nausea, vomiting, ulcers and even stomach cancer.

Liver damage

Regularly having just a couple of drinks could affect the health of your liver. The liver’s job is to filter toxins out of your body, and if it has to break down too much alcohol, it can struggle to do its job and get fatty and scarred.

Erectile dysfunction

Drinking alcohol slows the central nervous system as well as lowering testosterone and increasing oestrogen. This reduces libido and makes it harder to get and sustain an erection. Over time, too much booze can reduce the quality and number of sperm.

Key sources and further reading

Drinkaware: Health effects of alcohol

31 March, 2023