Alcohol’s Effect on the Immune System

Heavy use of alcohol is known to cause such ailments as liver damage and heart problems, but now researchers have found that it can damage the very system that keeps bodies safe from illness and disease. Each time an individual drinks enough to get drunk, they are lowering their body’s defenses against illness, preventing nutrients from strengthening the immune system, and reducing their body’s natural healing process.

Lowering the Body’s Defenses

White blood cells are the warriors that help a body fight off illness. Research studies have shown that when alcohol enters the bloodstream it reduces the white blood cells in a body. Essentially, the alcohol destroys the protection the white blood cells provide for the body and leaves an individual much more prone to catching whatever cold or virus is lingering nearby. Large doses of alcohol pull down the immune system walls and can leave the body vulnerable to more serious illnesses like HIV or even cancer. Heavy amounts of alcohol also impair the work of antibody-producing B-lymphocytes. These antibodies fight off diseases that may try to enter the body.

Preventing Nutrients From Strengthening the Immune System

Alcohol also affects the body’s red blood cells that normally help the flow of nutrients and oxygen throughout the body. Alcohol causes red blood cells to bond together in a dangerous way. This unfriendly bonding clogs up smaller blood vessels and reduces oxygen and nutrient flow throughout the body. Reduced oxygen levels prevent the immune system from receiving all the nutrients it needs to function properly.

Slowing Healing

To those who are already battling a disease or illness, doctors caution that large doses of alcohol can slow the body’s healing process. The body must work harder when alcohol impairs the system that reduces and prevents illness in the body. Studies report that too much alcohol can impair bone formation, and cause liver problems, kidney disease, and ulcers due to an increase in stomach acid. A body that is ill from cancer, heart disease, or any other multiple illnesses benefits from a strong immune system. When heavy amounts of alcohol lower the strength of the immune system, the entire body becomes weaker.

Large Amounts of Alcohol Lower Your System’s Defenses

Experts caution that when an individual drinks enough alcohol to get drunk it is enough to cause harm. Experts define one drink as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits. Each individual’s immune system is different. Some people were fortunate to have been born with an immune system that could conquer the angriest infection; others catch a cold when someone in the other room sneezes. To keep the body’s immune system working at its best capacity, individuals would be wiser to pop open another bottle of Vitamin C rather than another bottle of liquor.

Scroll to Top