Effects of Alcohol on Each Part of the Body

Evidence from epidemiological studies has been corroborated by intervention studies in humans. For example, Mori et al. carried out a randomized controlled trial evaluating BP changes in 24 premenopausal women at three drinking levels (alcohol free, low volume, and high volume) during a 4-week period each. SBP and DBP were higher in women who consumed greater amounts of alcohol (2–3 drinks per day) compared with the other two drinking levels. However, lower amounts of intake did not show the BP-lowering effects evidenced in other studies [62]. A meta-analysis by Roereck et al. evaluating 36 clinical trials including 2865 participants described that a reduction in alcohol consumption reduced BP in a dose-dependent manner, when intake was over 2 drinks per day in both healthy participants and people with risk factors for CVD [49].

1. Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant Effects

Moreover, serum markers of alcohol intake have been identified, mainly gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT). This marker correlates with alcohol consumption and has been shown to predict cardiovascular and all-cause mortality, independently of alcohol intake [18]. Having a glass of wine with dinner or a beer at a party here and there isn’t going to destroy your gut.

  1. The relationship between alcohol consumption and cardiovascular events or all-cause mortality in apparently healthy people or patients with CVD has been depicted as a J-shaped curve attributed to a dose-related combination of beneficial and harmful effects [29,30].
  2. Let’s face it, a hangover in your mid-40s doesn’t feel the same as one in your early 20s.
  3. Your gut microbiome is a hotbed of bacteria that help keep your digestive system happy and healthy.

How healthy is sugar alcohol?

However, newer research suggests that drinking alcohol in any amount could be harmful. However, evidence suggests an association between consuming alcohol and problems with the alcohol use disorder cardiovascular system. Binge drinking — four or more drinks for women and five or more for men in about 2 hours — can cause irregular heart rhythms called arrhythmias.

How Alcohol Affects Your Heart

A single drink had little effect on blood pressure, but when people consumed two drinks, they experienced a slight dip in their blood pressure levels in the hours that followed. When they had more than two drinks, however, they saw their blood pressure levels fall at first and then begin to climb, eventually becoming slightly alcohol use disorder elevated about 13 hours after they drank. There is a very clear link between regularly drinking too much alcohol and having high blood pressure. Over time, high blood pressure (hypertension) puts strain on the heart muscle and can lead to cardiovascular disease (CVD), which increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.

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Some of the potential cellular changes related to ethanol consumption reviewed above are illustrated in figure 5. More than one cellular event may be happening at the same time, and, as with other chronic health conditions, the relevant mechanisms may be synergistic and interrelated. The proportion of cardiomyopathy cases attributable to alcohol abuse has ranged from 23 to 40 percent (Piano and Phillips 2014). Recently, Guzzo-Merello and colleagues (2015) reported that, among 282 patients with a dilated cardiomyopathy phenotype, 33 percent had ACM. However, some reports indicate that alcohol-dependent women develop ACM after consuming less alcohol over a shorter period than do age-matched alcohol-dependent men (Fernández-Solà et al. 1997; Urbano-Marquez et al. 1989).

Interestingly, the strength of this association was not consistent across different geographic regions. Alcohol use was protective against CHD for subjects in most countries, except for people of South Asian ethnicity living in South Asia (India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka). INTERHEART results also suggested that the protective effect of any alcohol use against MI was greater in women and those over age 45. Finally, data from INTERHEART support the finding that the risk of MI is increased in the 24 hours after consumption of 6 or more drinks, suggesting that binge drinking increases MI risk (table 1). Furthermore, a few additional limitations are of special importance when using MR to investigate the role of alcohol consumption.

3Greenfield and colleagues (2005) studied the effects of alcohol at meal time in a group of nonsmoking, healthy postmenopausal women. Each woman was given either no alcohol or 15 g of alcohol (1 standard drink) with either a low-carbohydrate or a high-carbohydrate, high-fat meal. The researchers found that the alcohol-drinking subjects (particularly those who were insulin sensitive) a potential case of acute ketamine withdrawal had higher insulin levels and a slower rise in glucose levels after a low-carb meal. They recommended confirming these results in younger women and in men, particularly since their subjects had been older women, who have more significant cardiovascular risk. Evidence of oxidative stress is found after short periods of alcohol consumption (2 to 18 weeks), at least in animal models.

In addition, alcohol has a negative effect on the integrity and function of the contractile proteins known as actin and myosin (Preedy et al. 1996). Alcohol reduces the synthesis of cardiac proteins in both the contractile apparatus (i.e., the actinmyosin complex) and in the cell’s “powerhouses” (i.e., mitochondria), especially in alcoholics with high blood pressure (Preedy et al. 1996). Similarly, acetaldehyde (a metabolite of alcohol) and free radicals may contribute to decreased protein synthesis as well. Another way that alcohol can induce cardiac muscle damage is by increasing the expression of a certain gene (i.e., c-myc), which can promote programmed cell death, resulting in muscle cell loss (Paice et al. 1996). Clinical studies have shown, however, that every 1-percent reduction in plasma cholesterol levels decreases the risk for CAD by 2 percent. Free cholesterol released from cells initially is incorporated into HDL by an enzyme called lecithin-cholesterol acyl transferase (LCAT), which changes the cholesterol to cholesteryl esters.

Chronic alcohol consumption has been verified as the cause of hypertension in two controlled trials. In the first study, the blood pressure of 16 hypertensive men, who drank 4 pints of beer on average, dropped significantly when alcohol was withdrawn for 4 days (Potter and Beevers 1984). In the second study, 20 hypertensive subjects (10 who reported consuming less than 2 drinks per day and 10 who reported consuming 2 to 6 drinks per day) showed significant blood pressure reductions after abstinence (Malhotra et al. 1985). Data derived from systematic reviews and meta-analyses suggest that alcohol-dose and CV-health relationships differ for various CV conditions. For example, certain levels of alcohol consumption that lower risk for CHD may increase it for other CV conditions, such as stroke. In addition, data from studies using new research methods, including Mendelian randomization, suggest that the relationship between low-to-moderate alcohol consumption and cardioprotection merits more critical appraisal (Holmes et al. 2014).