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Eight ways alcohol affects your body

 The impact of alcohol on your body starts the moment you take the first sip (Shutterstock)

Like all drugs, alcohol can damage your body, especially when you drink heavily every day or in binges. The impact of alcohol on your body starts the moment you take the first sip. While the occasional glass of wine isn’t a cause of concern, it is the cumulative effects of drinking alcohol that can take a toll on your body.

Here are some of the ways alcohol can affect your body:

  • It makes you look older
  • How? Well, alcohol causes a rise in stress hormones in your body. This in turn speeds up your aging process.

    Additionally, it dehydrates your body, causing dry skin which is more prone to wrinkles. If you have to drink, you are advised to match it with your water intake.

  • It increases your risk of breast cancer
  • Compared to other body tissues, studies show that breast tissue is susceptible to the carcinogenic effects of alcohol.

  • It messes with your sleep
  • While alcohol has sedative effects that cause the drowsiness, and gets you to sleep faster, it impairs your sleep quality because it shortens the period in your sleep known as REM (rapid eye movement).

    This is when your brain refreshes itself and it is an important process for your memory and learning abilities.

  • Liver disease
  • If someone drinks large amounts, their liver starts to have a hard time processing the alcohol thus making the liver cells overworked.

    This in turn damages them leading to fatty liver. This is worse in women than in men.

  • Brain damage
  • Excessive intake of alcohol has been linked to brain damage.

    According to the CDC, alcohol-related cognitive decline and shrinkage of the brain develop more quickly for women than for men.

  • Heart risks
  • Women who drink excessively predispose themselves to a greater risk of causing damage to the heart.

  • Other cancers
  • Other than breast cancer, intake of alcohol has over time also been linked to cancers of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, liver, and colon.

    In women, drinking is also associated with these cancers, even at low levels of consumption.

  • It can mess with your fertility 
  • A study by the American Addiction Centre showed that heavy drinking does indeed disrupt the menstrual cycle and this may result in fertility problems.

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