The Effects of Regular Alcohol Consumption

Effects of Regular Alcohol Consumption

Is drinking alcohol ever healthy for you? Find out the truth about the effects of regular alcohol consumption

Have you ever wondered if your consumption of alcohol is having a beneficial or negative effect on your body? For many people, drinking alcohol is an ingrained part of life. People drink for many reasons: to be sociable, to celebrate, or to relax at the end of the day.  Alcohol consumption in moderation can be beneficial, but drinking too much – whether through a general pattern of heavy drinking or by indulging in a single occasion of binge drinking – can have serious consequences for the health of individuals. To help you get a better understanding of how much is too much when it comes to alcohol, we need to take a closer look at the effects of regular alcohol consumption on the body of drinkers.

What does binge drinking do to your body?

Binge drinking is defined as 4 or more drinks for women, or 5 or more drinks for men per drinking day.  The limits for older adults are lower: after age 60, more than 2 drinks for women or 3 drinks for men is considered binge drinking.  Binge drinking even once can have serious consequences for your health. Binge drinking of alcohol can inflame your stomach lining, causing nausea and vomiting. Your pancreas can become inflamed (pancreatitis) and your heart can experience disturbances in rhythm that range from a few extra beats to arterial fibrillation, a life-threatening condition that can lead to a stroke. Binge drinking can depress your breathing and actually cause you to stop breathing entirely.

What are the long term effects of alcohol on the body?

Whether the long term effects of alcohol on the body are negative or positive depends on the amount of alcohol consumed. The effects that heavy drinking and the effects that moderate drinking have on the body over time are so different that they should be considered separately.

The effects of heavy drinking on the body

Regular consumption of a lot of alcohol can have a negative effect on almost every system in the body.  If you engage in heavy drinking (more than 4 drinks in a day or 14 drinks in a week for men, or 3 drinks in a day or more than 7 drinks in a week for women) on a regular basis, it can lead to serious complications in various body systems:

  • Heart – Drinking can lead to high blood pressure, arrhythmia, and increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.
  • Liver – Regular consumption of alcohol can cause inflammation of the liver and lead to a variety of problems including alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis (scarring of the liver)
  • Pancreas – Blood vessels in your pancreas can become swollen and inflamed (pancreatitis), interfering with digestion
  • Stomach – Long term consumption of alcohol can lead to stomach ulcers, gastric bleeding, gastritis, and cancer
  • Cancer – Alcohol use can increase your chances of developing cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and liver
  • Sexual health – Men can experience erectile dysfunction and reduced fertility as a result of heavy alcohol use. Women may stop menstruating, and pregnant women have an increased risk of miscarriage or premature birth

The effects of moderate drinking on the body

Light to moderate alcohol consumption can have a beneficial effect on the body. The regular consumption of a moderate amount of alcohol (up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men) may decrease the risk of developing several serious conditions including heart disease, diabetes, and ischemic stroke. Drinking red wine may increase the potential health benefits of regular alcohol consumption because it contains high levels of resveratrol. Some studies show that resveratrol helps prevent damage to blood vessels, may reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol),  and may play a role in preventing blood clots.

Whether the effects of regular alcohol consumption are beneficial or detrimental to your body depends on the amount of alcohol you consume. As with most things, moderation is the key. For more information on health topics and helpful lifestyle tips, turn to




Follow us on Facebook for useful advice on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.