Symptoms: Alcohol's Impact on the Human Body
Too much drinking (see box left)—on a single occasion or over time—can take a serious toll. Most people recognize that drinking too much can lead to accidents and dependence. But that's only part of the story.
- Brain—Mood and behavior change; thinking clearly and coordinated movement are impaired.
- Heart—Cardiomyopathy (stretching and drooping of the heart muscle), arrhythmia (irregular heart beat), stroke, and high blood pressure.
- Liver—Steatosis (fatty liver), alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis.
- Pancreas—Pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation and swelling that prevents proper digestion.
- Cancer—Increased risk of mouth, throat, esophagus, liver and breast cancers.
- Immune System—Reduced ability to ward off infections; chronic drinkers more likely than non-drinkers to contract pneumonia, tuberculosis, and other diseases.
The effects of alcohol, harmful or otherwise, depend largely on an individual's drinking pattern—how often he or she drinks alcohol, and how much alcohol is consumed per drinking occasion.