Is there no safe amount of alcohol?

Mike Dyson, 33, died suddenly on Christmas Day after a few drinks before opening his presents.

Dyson went to a neighbor’s house for a drink at 1:30 p.m. After drinking four glasses of whiskey and some hot water, he went to bed. Everyone thought he was sleeping. Around seven in the evening, her family members and neighbors were shocked to see her not breathing. So they called an ambulance and gave him artificial respiration at the same time.

Sadly, he still died around 8:20 p.m

The coroner confirmed that he died of central nervous system depression, specifically respiratory depression caused by severe alcohol intoxication. A toxicology test showed that Dyson’s blood alcohol content at the time was extremely high, four to five times the legal driving limit, which equates to “extreme intoxication in a normal person”.

Dyson’s story is just one example of countless alcohol-related deaths. The harm of alcohol is more common than we think.

Alcohol kills approximately 95,000 people (68,000 men and 27,000 women) in the United States each year. Alcohol is the third most preventable cause of death in the United States (first is tobacco, second is poor diet and lack of exercise).

Between 2006 and 2014, alcohol-related emergency room visits increased 47 percent. 18.5 percent of all emergencies were related to alcohol. In 2019, there were 10,142 drunk driving deaths in the United States, accounting for 28 percent of all driving deaths.

Alcohol is a group 1 carcinogen and the safe intake is 0

Did you know that there is no such thing as “safe drinking”?

Alcohol has long been classified as a Group I carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

In 2018, The Lancet, a top international medical journal, gave alcoholics a bitter pill. After a systematic review of alcohol consumption and health effects in 195 countries from 1990 to 2016, this study concluded that the safe intake of alcohol is nil.

According to the study, statistics show that in 2016, one in three people over the age of 15 drank alcohol worldwide, including 25 percent of women and 39 percent of men. Alcohol consumption is the leading cause of premature death and disability in people aged 15 to 49 years.

The researchers said that alcohol consumption may have some protective effect against coronary heart disease and diabetes in some women, but more studies have found that alcohol consumption has little or no protective effect on all-cause mortality or cardiovascular health. showed that it is not important.

Many believe that drinking red wine is good for your health. In fact, this is mainly due to the presence of resveratrol in red wine. You can also get resveratrol from red or dark red grapes, blueberries, cranberries, and peanuts without drinking alcohol. You can also drink a glass of rich grape juice instead and benefit from the resveratrol content without the negative effects of alcohol.

In addition, alcohol consumption is directly related to the increase in cancer and infectious diseases. Thus, given the overall health effects of alcohol consumption, the previously reported protective effects are negated. No matter how much alcohol we drink, our health will suffer. And our exposure to alcohol also has a negative impact on our health at different stages of our life cycle.

Photo by Epoch Times

How much alcohol can the liver process?

After drinking alcoholic beverages, alcohol is absorbed into the blood, further broken down and processed by the liver.

The human liver can process one drink per hour, where one drink is typically 12 ounces (about 350 mL) of beer, 5 ounces (about 150 mL) of wine, or 1.5 ounces (about 45 mL) of whiskey.

A person can become intoxicated if they drink alcohol faster than their liver can process it.

We determine the level of intoxication of a person mainly by looking at the concentration of alcohol in the blood in his body and using a blood alcohol analysis. Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) refers to grams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood. For example, a BAC value of 0.1 percent means 0.1 grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood.

In the United States, the legal blood alcohol concentration limit for drivers 21 and older is 0.08 percent.

If BAC is from 0.08 percent to 0.4 percent, a person is considered intoxicated. Other symptoms may include confusion, nausea, and drowsiness.

A BAC above 0.4 percent is very dangerous and can cause serious complications, coma, and even death.

Alcohol causes brain atrophy and increases its lifespan by 11.7 years

The link between alcohol consumption and brain atrophy was discovered decades ago.

Many magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies have shown significant differences in the gray and white matter of the brain in chronic alcoholics compared to healthy individuals.

In a cross-section of the brain, the central part is white matter, and the outer layer is gray matter. They have different functions. The gray matter is where the nerve cells are concentrated, and the white matter mainly acts as a relay and connects the nerve cells.

Gray matter in the brain of alcoholics generally decreases in volume, and the degree of change is related to the amount of alcohol consumed over time and the duration of alcohol dependence. In alcoholics, the white matter of the brain atrophies and its microstructure changes.

Photo by Epoch Times

The degree to which alcohol shrinks the brain increases with age and reaches a maximum in old age.

However, the reduction in brain volume is not necessarily reversible, and many early studies have shown that brain volume partially recovers after abstinence from alcohol. In former heavy drinkers (155 drinks per month), reducing alcohol consumption to an average of 20 drinks per month is sufficient to increase brain volume.

Alcohol also causes brain aging. Alcoholics have larger brains than their peers. One study found that the difference between brain age and biological age of alcoholics, as measured by gray matter volume, was up to 11.7 years. Another study on brain age found that only daily drinkers had a difference between actual and predicted brain age, while those who rarely drank or abstained from alcohol did not.

A study published in the British Medical Journal also found that people who drank alcohol every week had a faster rate of cognitive decline than those who didn’t. Even those who drank less alcohol (1 to 7 drinks per week) had cognitive decline.

What parts of the brain does alcohol affect?

When alcohol enters the brain, it affects the following parts of the brain:

Cerebral cortex: It processes sensory information. Alcohol slows down the cerebral cortex, slows down thinking, and weakens sensory functions.

Hippocampus: This is the part of the brain that creates memories. A glass or two of alcohol can cause temporary “amnesia”. When alcohol damages someone’s hippocampus, the person’s memory becomes impaired.

frontal lobe: Alcohol damage to this part of the brain can cause a person to lose control, act recklessly, and even become violent. Chronic drinking can permanently damage the frontal lobe.

Central nervous system: When you want to tell your body what to do, the central nervous system gives you these instructions. Therefore, people think, speak and act more slowly after drinking alcohol.

cerebellum: It coordinates the body. When you are drunk, your hands shake and you walk crookedly.

Hypothalamus: After drinking, blood pressure rises, body temperature drops, heart rate slows down, and urinary control is impossible because the hypothalamus is affected.

Marrow: It controls the body’s “automatic” functions, such as heart rate and body temperature. So drinking too much alcohol can cause you to lose consciousness or even die.

Alcohol reaches the liver and becomes carcinogenic, increasing the risk of many cancers

Only 10 percent of the alcohol we drink is excreted through sweat and breathing, while the remaining 90 percent is metabolized in the liver.

When alcohol enters the liver, it is broken down by an enzyme into acetaldehyde, then by another enzyme into acetic acid, and then into water and carbon dioxide.

Acetaldehyde is toxic and carcinogenic, while acetic acid is less toxic. An improper ratio of alcohol-degrading enzymes in the body can cause these toxins to accumulate in the body.

Acetaldehyde also damages cell membranes, causing DNA damage and preventing DNA synthesis and repair, which can lead to cancer. Both ethanol and acetaldehyde disrupt DNA methylation, activating oncogenes and other abnormal genes, resulting in the formation of cancer cells. Ethanol can also cause DNA damage, causing inflammation and oxidation.

Of the new cancer cases worldwide in 2020, more than 740,000 were linked to alcohol consumption, with 100,000 of those attributable to light and moderate drinking.

Esophageal, liver and breast cancer are the three most common cancers. The rest are, in descending order, cancers of the colon, oral cavity, rectum, pharynx, and pharynx.

Several Australian researchers conducted a systematic review of more than 100 papers and concluded that excessive alcohol consumption can damage all parts of the gastrointestinal tract. It is now believed that alcohol causes breast cancer by increasing the level of sex hormones in the body.

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