Is there no safe amount of alcohol?


Mike Dyson, 33, died suddenly on Christmas Day after several drinks, before he even had a chance to open his presents.

Dyson went drinking at his neighbor’s house at 1:30 p.m. After drinking about four glasses of whiskey and hot water, he lay down on a bed. Everyone thought he was sleeping. It was not until around 7 p.m. that his family members and neighbors discovered to their horror that he was not breathing. So they called an ambulance and gave him CPR at the same time.

Unfortunately, he still died around 8:20 p.m.

The coroner confirmed that he died of central nervous system depression, specifically respiratory depression, caused by acute alcohol intoxication. Toxicology analysis showed Dyson’s blood alcohol level was very high at the time, four to five times the legal driving limit, which is equivalent to the state of “extreme drunkenness in a normal person. “.

Dyson’s story is just one example of the countless deaths caused by alcohol. Alcohol damage is actually much more common than you might think.

Each year, alcohol kills approximately 95,000 people (68,000 men and 27,000 women) in the United States. Alcohol is the third preventable cause of death in the United States (first is tobacco and second is poor diet and lack of exercise).

From 2006 to 2014, alcohol-related emergency room visits increased by 47%. Of all emergencies, 18.5% were alcohol-related. In 2019, there were 10,142 drunk driving deaths in the United States, representing 28% of all driving deaths.

Alcohol is a group 1 carcinogen and has a safe intake of 0

Did you know that there is no such thing as “safe drinking”?

Alcoholic beverages have long been classified as Group I carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

In 2018, the international medical journal The Lancet gave alcohol drinkers a bitter pill to swallow. After a systematic review of alcohol consumption and its effects on health in 195 countries from 1990 to 2016, this study concluded that safe drinking sucks.

According to the study, statistically, one in three people aged 15 and over globally consumed alcohol in 2016, with 25% women and 39% men. Alcohol consumption is a major contributor to premature death and disability among people aged 15-49.

Researchers said alcohol consumption may have protective effects on ischemic heart disease and diabetes in women in some cases, but pointed out that more research has shown alcohol consumption has no protective effect. or insignificant protective effects on all-cause mortality or cardiovascular health.

Many people believe that drinking red wine is good for your health. In fact, this is mainly due to the presence of resveratrol in red wine. You can also get resveratrol from purple or dark red grapes, blueberries, cranberries, and peanuts without consuming alcohol. You can also have a glass of rich grape juice instead and benefit from the resveratrol content without the negative effects of alcohol.

In addition, alcohol consumption is directly associated with an increased risk of cancer and infectious diseases. Thus, when considering the overall health risks of alcohol consumption, the previously mentioned protective effects are negated. Our health is compromised no matter how much alcohol we consume. And our exposure to alcohol will also negatively affect our health at any stage of our life cycle.

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How much alcohol can the liver process?

After drinking alcoholic beverages, the alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream and then broken down and processed by the liver.

The human liver can process about one drink per hour, where one drink usually means 12 ounces (about 350ml) of beer, 5 ounces (about 150ml) of wine, or 1.5 ounces (about 45ml) of whiskey.

A person can be intoxicated if they drink alcohol faster than their liver can process it.

We determine a person’s level of intoxication primarily by looking at their blood alcohol level in their body, using a blood alcohol test. Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) refers to grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood. For example, a blood alcohol value of 0.1% means 0.1 grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood.

In the United States, the legal blood alcohol limit is 0.08% for drivers aged 21 and over.

If the blood alcohol level is between 0.08% and 0.4%, the person is considered drunk. Other symptoms may include impaired consciousness, nausea, and drowsiness.

A blood alcohol level above 0.4% is extremely dangerous and can lead to serious complications, coma and even death.

Alcohol atrophies the brain and increases its age by 11.7 years

The link between alcohol consumption and brain atrophy was established decades ago.

Numerous magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies have demonstrated significant differences in brain gray and white matter in chronic alcohol drinkers compared to healthy individuals.

In a cross-sectional view of the brain, the middle part is white matter and the outer layer is gray matter. They have different functions. Gray matter is where nerve cells are concentrated, while white matter mainly acts as a relay and connects nerve cells.

The gray matter in the brains of people with alcohol dependence generally decreases in volume, and the degree of change is related to the amount of alcohol consumed over time and the duration of alcohol dependence. In alcohol drinkers, the white matter of the brain also atrophies and its microstructure also changes.

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The degree to which alcohol shrinks the brain increases with age, reaching a maximum in old age.

However, the reduction in brain volume is not necessarily irreversible, and many previous studies have shown that brain volume seems to partially recover after abstinence from alcohol. In people who were previously heavy drinkers (155 drinks per month), reducing their alcohol consumption to an average of 20 drinks per month is enough to increase brain volume.

Alcohol also ages the brain. People who are dependent on alcohol have older brains than their peers. One study found that the difference between age and biological brain age in alcohol-dependent people was up to 11.7 years, as determined by their gray matter volume. Another brain age study found that only daily drinkers had a difference between actual and predicted brain age, while those who rarely drank or abstained from alcohol had no difference. .

A study published in the British Medical Journal also mentioned that people who consumed alcoholic beverages on a weekly basis had a faster rate of cognitive decline than those who did not drink. Even those who drank little alcohol (1 to 7 drinks per week) showed a decline in cognition.

Which parts of the brain are affected by alcohol?

When alcohol enters the brain, it affects the following parts of the brain:

Cerebral cortex: It processes sensory information. Alcohol slows down the cerebral cortex, impairs judgment and impairs sensory functions.

Seahorse: It is the part of the brain that creates memory. One or two drinks of alcohol can cause temporary “amnesia”. If alcohol damages someone’s hippocampus, the person’s memory will be impaired.

Frontal lobe: Alcohol damage to this part of the brain can cause a person to lose control, act without thinking, and even commit acts of violence. Chronic alcohol consumption can permanently damage the frontal lobe.

Central nervous system: When you want to dictate what your body does, it’s the central nervous system that transmits the instructions. This is why people think, speak and act more slowly after drinking alcohol.

Cerebellum: It coordinates the body. When you’re drunk, your hands will shake and you’ll walk sideways.

Hypothalamus : After drinking, blood pressure rises, body temperature drops, heart rate slows, and urinary urgency cannot be controlled because the hypothalamus is affected.

Bone marrow: It controls the “automatic” functions of the body, such as heart rate and body temperature. Therefore, if you drink a lot of alcohol, you will pass out and even die.

Alcohol damages the liver and becomes carcinogenic, increasing the risk of many cancers

Only 10% of the alcohol we consume is excreted through sweat and breath, while the remaining 90% is broken down and metabolized by the liver.

When alcohol enters the liver, it is broken down by one enzyme into acetaldehyde, then by another enzyme into acetic acid, and later into water and carbon dioxide.

Acetaldehyde is toxic and carcinogenic, while acetic acid is slightly less toxic. A poor ratio of alcohol-breaking enzymes in the body can lead to a buildup of these toxins in the body.

Acetaldehyde also continues to damage cell membranes, causing DNA damage and preventing DNA synthesis and repair, which can lead to cancer. Ethanol and acetaldehyde disrupt DNA methylation, allowing the activation of oncogenes and other abnormal genes, resulting in the formation of cancer cells. Ethanol can also induce inflammation and oxidative stress, leading to further DNA damage.

Of all new cancer cases worldwide in 2020, more than 740,000 were attributed to alcohol consumption, of which approximately 100,000 were caused by light and moderate alcohol consumption.

Cancers of the oesophagus, liver and breast are the three most numerous cancers. The others are cancers of the colon, oral cavity, rectum, pharynx and larynx, in descending order.

A systematic review of over 100 papers by several Australian researchers concluded that excessive alcohol consumption may be associated with damage to all parts of the gastrointestinal tract. It is now believed that the reason alcohol causes breast cancer is that it increases the level of sex hormones in the body.


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