Alcohol’s hidden harms – effects on our health
Regularly drinking over the lower-risk guidelines will increase the chances of doing serious harm. It’s that extra glass or two in the evening, most evenings, that can do almost all the damage.
What do we mean by serious harm?
There are many different ways that alcohol can damage our bodies. The problem is, drink sneaks up on us - its hidden harms usually only surface after a number of years.
Most people who have alcohol related health problems aren’t addicted to alcohol. They’re simply people who have regularly drunk more than the lower-risk guidelines for some years. Regularly drinking over the lower-risk guidelines increases the chances of suffering from any of the conditions below:
- Cancer of the mouth, throat, oesophagus or larynx
- Breast cancer in women
- Heart disease or an irregular heartbeat, which can lead to heart attack
- High blood pressure
- Liver damage such as cirrhosis and liver cancer
- Depression, memory loss, brain damage or dementia
- Reduced fertility
The more you drink, the greater the risk. Drinking less now can make a big difference to your health later on. And for those who already have a medical condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure or are suffering from depression or anxiety, alcohol often makes life worse.
Two large glasses of wine (ABV13%) or more a day could make you three times more likely to get mouth cancer.
How alcohol can affect your sex life
Alcohol is often used to socialise and to reduce some inhibitions. But too much in a night can affect your judgement. It can also increase the risk of bad choices, of sexually transmitted infection, unwanted pregnancy and can even increase vulnerability to assault. Men can suffer from temporary impotence (Brewer's droop) after drinking.
But that's not all. People who drink heavily over a long period of time might also suffer from:
- Less interest in sex
- Shrinking of the testicles
- Reduction in penis size
- Reduced sperm production
- Loss of pubic and body hair
- Enlargement of the breasts (as a complication of damage to the liver)
A spare tyre
If you drink 10 pints a week, you could be taking on more than 2,000 extra calories (kcal) each week.
If you drink 10 standard (175ml) glasses of wine a week it will add more than 1,200 extra calories (kcal) each week.