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The Serious Health Risks of Alcohol

It’s well known that alcoholism can cause cirrhosis of the liver, but many people might not know that chronic alcohol abuse is also highly associated with many different types of cancer, including cancer of the colon, larynx (voice box), liver, rectum, throat, kidneys, and esophagus. Other problems can include pancreatitis (which can lead to pancreatic cancer), hepatitis, cardiovascular disease, epilepsy, alcoholic dementia, heart disease, nutritional deficiencies, sexual dysfunction, and death.

Repeated drinking is especially harmful to the liver because the liver does most of the work in processing alcohol when it is ingested. Excessive amounts of alcohol kill liver cells and render them unable to reproduce, which can lead to inflammation of the liver or cirrhosis, an acute and potentially fatal condition.

Alcohol abuse can also lead to erosive gastritis, a condition that decreases the absorption of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, leading to malnutrition. As a result, people can experience memory loss, sleep disturbances, Wernicke’s Encephalopathy, and Korsakoff’s syndrome. The latter two conditions involve severe memory loss, confusion, and learning difficulties.

Long-term drinking can also cause a wide range of mental health problems. Psychiatric disorders are common in alcoholics, with as many as 25 percent of alcoholics presenting with severe psychiatric disturbances. Psychosis, confusion, and organic brain syndrome may be induced by chronic alcohol abuse and can lead to major disorders such as schizophrenia. In addition, approximately ten percent of all dementia cases are alcohol related, making alcohol the second leading cause of dementia.

Many alcoholics also suffer from depression; studies show that between 8 and 21 percent of alcoholics commit suicide. The risk of suicide among alcoholics has been determined to be 5,080 times that of the general public.

With all of these potential serious health problems, it is imperative that people suffering from alcohol dependency get help before their health deteriorates. If you or someone you know shows signs of alcohol dependency, the best time to get help is today.

Posted on June 8th, 2009
Posted in Alcoholism

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