Alcohol Is Not Good For Us, Poisoning Kills 6 People Daily
The World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies alcohol as a Group 1 carcinogen, their highest risk category.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration data reveals, that just over 26% of people over 18 reported binge drinking in the previous 30 days of the study when it was performed in 2015.
Another 7% reported heavy alcohol use.
This is aligned with the US Surgeon General’s Report showing that substance abuse in the US is spiking, including alcohol abuse.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol poisoning kills 6 people every day.
The are deaths related to short-term consumption of toxic amounts of alcohol that leads to central nervous system depression and shutdown in critical areas of the brain controlling breathing, heart rate and body temperature, ultimately resulting in death.
The statistic does not address other negative effects alcohol has on our health.
In addition to being a central nervous system depressant, alcohol is a carbohydrate lacking in real nutritional value.
About 33% of Americans are obese and according to the CDC, in Y 2014 there was no state in the US with a prevalence of obesity less than 20%
Although scientists have found associations between alcohol consumption and negative health conditions such as pancreatitis and stomach cancer, what has been missing is the precise nature in which alcohol damages your body.
New research shows that as your body processes alcohol, a transient toxic compound is produced that attacks DNA.
The research demonstrated the effect alcohol had on blood stem cells in mice. The researchers gave ethanol to mice and then used chromosome analysis and DNA sequencing to study genetic damage on the body by acetaldehyde, produced during the metabolic processing of alcohol.
The researchers from Cambridge University’s MRS Laboratory of Molecular Biology found a buildup of acetaldehyde happened when there is too much for the body to break down, or when mechanisms to reduce acetaldehyde function poorly.
While previous research pinpointed acetaldehyde as the cause that caused DNA damage, those studies were performed on cell cultures and not on a living body. However, the evidence was strong enough to prompt the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) to classify alcohol as a Group 1 carcinogen, their highest risk category.
The researchers chose to study blood stem cells since they quickly replicate and readily spread genetic damage throughout the body.
Lead author Dr. Ketan Patel commented on the extent of the damage their data revealed, saying: “We saw huge amounts of DNA damage in these cells. Bits of DNA were deleted, bits were broken and we even saw parts of chromosomes being moved about and rearranged.”
The researchers found acetaldehyde breaks and damages DNA in blood cell stem cells, leading to rearranged chromosomes and permanently altering DNA sequences. This DNA damage increases your risk for 7 types of cancer, including breast and bowel cancer.
Dr. Patel explained: “Some cancers develop due to DNA damage in stem cells. While some damage occurs by chance, our findings suggest that drinking alcohol can increase the risk of this damage.”
The study examined the body’s ability to protect itself from acetaldehyde and identified a family of enzymes that break the compound down into acetate, which your cells can use for energy.
However, millions of people, especially those of Southeast Asian descent, either do not have these enzymes, or the enzymes are faulty. This increases their risk of acetaldehyde accumulation, triggering greater DNA damage and a flushed face.
A 2nd line of defense is a repair mechanism that helps repair DNA.
Dr. Patel has found this does not always work, and some individuals carry mutations in the mechanism.
Data has revealed the number of deaths related to alcohol consumption and cancer has increased 62% in 12 years, rising from 3.6% in Y 2003 to 5.8% of deaths worldwide in 2015.
Dr. Patel went on to say: “Our study highlights that not being able to process alcohol effectively can lead to an even higher risk of alcohol-related DNA damage and therefore certain cancers. But it’s important to remember that alcohol clearance and DNA repair systems are not perfect and alcohol can still cause cancer in different ways, even in people whose defense mechanisms are intact.”
There are several ways alcohol may influence your risk of developing cancer.
The American Cancer Society warns just a few drinks each week can increase your risk of breast cancer.
The risk is higher in women who have low folate levels.
Alcohol affects your hormones and an increased estrogen level triggered by alcohol is linked to breast cancer.
Hormone levels are also affected in men, which can lead to infertility.
Alcohol’s effect on the human body is influenced by body weight, ratio of muscle to fat, and how much and what kind of food you’ve recently eaten.
Alcohol is an addictive substance, and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence estimates 1 in 12 Americans abuse alcohol or are dependent on the drug.
Alcoholism is the 3rd leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the US and up to 40 percent of hospital beds are used to treat alcohol related conditions, with the exception of maternity and ICU beds.
One’s pattern of consumption does not appear to make a difference in the severity of the symptoms.
Those who binge drink every week or 2 suffer some of the same conditions as those who drink daily.
Dr. Alex Wodak, emeritus consultant at the Alcohol and Drug Service in Sydney Australia’s St. Vincent Hospital, describes the differences: “I’ve been in France early in morning and people, generally men, order a coffee and have a nip of brandy or whiskey, and they top up regularly during the day. They’re never intoxicated but there’s a formidable physical toll from all of that. In the north of Europe, that kind of drinking style is very uncommon and what’s more common is for people to have two-thirds of a bottle of spirits once a week and they set fire to a soccer stadium or slash train seats or belt their wife up or someone in the street they don’t like the look of.”
Since alcohol is a carbohydrate, it not only damages your liver and raises levels of DNA-damaging acetaldehyde, but it also increases your risk of obesity.
Healthcare costs tied to over-consumption of sugar account for at least 33% of healthcare costs spent each year in America.
This equates to nearly $1-T each year.
An increase in weight is linked to osteoarthritis, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and gout, to name a few.
Alcohol triggers changes in more than one’s DNA, affecting nearly every cell and organ system in the body.
In the brain, alcohol affects your limbic system that controls your emotions, which is why alcohol lowers people’s inhibitions.
The prefrontal cortex, a brain region associated with reasoning and judgment, also slows in response to alcohol, leading to more impulsive behavior and poor judgment.
Chronically, in as little as 1 month, one may experience:
- Increased liver stiffness, which increases your risk of liver cirrhosis.
- Diminished memory formation due to ethanol buildup in the brain. This is why you may not remember what you did while you were drunk. Alcohol also causes your hippocampus to shrink, which affects memory and learning.
- Systemic inflammation. Alcohol significantly increases five inflammatory markers. Studies have shown even a single binge causes a dramatic rise in inflammation.
- Increased stress on the heart, raising your risk for cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias, high blood pressure and stroke. Blood alcohol levels spike 2-3 hours after your last drink, which means it may occur in the middle of the night during sleep. This raises your risk of accidental death due to choking on your own vomit and/or suffering cardiac failure or stroke while sleeping.
- Significantly increased endotoxin levels. Alcohol causes gut damage, allowing bacteria to escape from your gut into your bloodstream. Regular consumption also leads to elevated endotoxin levels, suggesting sensible drinking limits likely need to be much lower than the current 14 to 21 units current recommended in the UK How low is still unclear.
Alcohol is a known cancer risk factor that contributes to cancer deaths.
In research published by the American Cancer Society, scientists analyzed cancer diagnosis and death data compiled from the CDC and National Cancer Institute.
They found 42% of cancer diagnoses and 45% of cancer deaths could be attributed to preventable or modifiable risk factors. Those factors included smoking, excess weight, alcohol intake, low consumption of fruits, vegetables, fiber and calcium, and lack of physical activity.
The researchers analyzed over 1.5-M cases of cancer and over 600,000 cancer deaths to evaluate whether a link existed between these modifiable factors and cancer. They found that lung and colorectal cancers had the highest number of diagnoses and deaths that could be attributed to preventable factors.
Cigarette smoking was responsible for the greatest number of cases of cancer diagnosed, while obesity and being overweight was responsible for the 2nd greatest number. Alcohol related cancers ranked 3rd on the list, alcohol is a contributing factor to obesity.
A combination of 2 of these modifiable factors, smoking and alcohol intake, are also related to the development of visible age-related signs.
While most people are concerned with external appearance, it’s important to remember that damage done to your skin by these toxins is likewise being done to your internal cells and organ systems.
If currently a drinker, it is vital to consider how this impacts your overall health and increases your risk for several different health conditions.
Research suggests that reducing or eliminating your alcohol intake and raising your exercise level will help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
This makes sense when you consider the fact that exercise may be one of the most effective strategies for protecting and strengthening your heart, so much so that research shows regular exercise can significantly lower your healthcare costs if you have heart disease.
According to one study, 30 mins of vigorous exercise, 5X per week, could result in annual healthcare savings of more than $2,500 per person.
Although this may help in the short run, alcohol impedes one’s desire for physical fitness and reduces testosterone production, making it more difficult to build muscle.
So, if you know you will be going out to have a few drinks use common sense and drink responsibly.
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively