Alcohol and its detrimental effects on the body

A problematic pattern of alcohol use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by at least two of the following, occurring within a 12-month period:

1. Alcohol is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.

2. There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol use.

3. A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain alcohol, use alcohol, or recover from its effects.

4. Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use alcohol.

5. Recurrent alcohol use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.

6. Continued alcohol use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of alcohol.

7. Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of alcohol use.

8. Recurrent alcohol use in situations in which it is physically hazardous.

9. Alcohol use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by alcohol.

10. Tolerance, as defined by either of the following:

a. A need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication or desired effect.


b. A markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of alcohol.


Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following:

a. The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for alcohol


b. Alcohol (or a closely related substance, such as a benzodiazepine) is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.


CAGE Questions for Alcohol Use

  • Have you ever felt you needed to Cut down on your drinking?

  • Have people Annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?

  • Have you ever felt Guilty about drinking?

  • Have you ever felt you needed a drink first thing in the morning (Eye-opener) to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover?


 Comparison Among Different Types Of Alcohol Drinks

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Cardiovascular disease

The effects of alcohol consumption on cardiac disease include hypertension, peripheral vascular disease, stroke, and arterial fibrillation.



Alcohol consumption is also associated with an increased risk of different types of cancers as follows but the risk of cancer is higher in heavy alcohol consumers.

Breast cancer 

There is consistent evidence that breast cancer risk is higher for women consuming both low (<1 drink per day) to high (≥3 drinks per day) levels of alcohol compared with abstainers. The effect of alcohol consumption on breast cancer risk may be modified by hormone therapy or intake of folate:

Combination of alcohol and hormone therapy – An additive risk for the combination of postmenopausal hormone therapy and alcohol intake was reported in the Nurses' Health Study.

 Association with folic acid intake – Folic acid intake may attenuate the effect of alcohol consumption on breast cancer. Observational data suggest that women who consume alcohol should also take a daily multivitamin fortified with folic acid.

A number of biological mechanisms may explain the association between breast cancer and alcohol intake, including increased circulating estrogens and androgens, enhancement of mammary gland susceptibility to carcinogenesis, increased mammary carcinogen DNA damage, and greater potential for invasiveness of breast cancer cells.

Gastrointestinal cancer 

Several types of gastrointestinal cancer are linked to alcohol consumption, even at low levels of intake. In a study of 226,000 men, the combined mortality rate for cancers of the mouth, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, and liver was 40 percent higher in less-than-daily drinkers than in abstainers and rose progressively with heavier consumption. In the large European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study, the alcohol-related attributable risk for men and women, respectively, was 44 and 25 percent for upper gastrointestinal cancer, 33 and 18 percent for hepatocellular cancer, and 17 and 4 percent for colorectal cancer. As with breast cancer, the increased risk in large part was found in individuals who drank more than the recommended upper limit.

Esophageal – The risk of squamous cell esophageal cancer is related to alcohol use.

However, alcohol does not appear to be associated with an increased risk for esophageal adenocarcinoma.


Central nervous system

Alcohol can reduce communication between your brain and your body. This makes coordination more difficult. You may have a hard time balancing. You should never drive after drinking.

As alcohol causes more damage to your central nervous system, you may experience numbness and tingling sensations in your feet and hands.


Diabetes mellitus 

The risk of diabetes mellitus is decreased in people with moderate alcohol consumption. A 2005 meta-analysis of 15 cohort studies also found a decreased risk for diabetes among light to moderate, but not heavy, alcohol users.


Colorectal cancer 

It also seems to be associated with alcohol consumption but the association is weak.



Drinking alcohol, especially in the first 3 months of pregnancy, increases the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and your baby having a low birthweight. Drinking after the first 3 months of your pregnancy could affect your baby after they're born. The risks are greater the more you drink



Alcoholic dementia, alcoholic cerebellar degeneration, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome and other chronic neurologic manifestations can occur.