Alcohol Awareness.

It is alcohol awareness week on the 01st – 07th July. To help you understand some of the lesser-known side effects alcohol can have on your body, we thought it would be helpful to highlight some of these.

Alcohol or alcoholic beverages are substances containing ethanol, a psychoactive and toxic substance that can cause dependence.

Everyone is aware of some of the risks associated with drinking too much, especially if a person then attempts to operate a deadly weapon weighing more than 2 tonnes (1600 kg), otherwise known as a car.

But are you aware of the many other health effects, due to excess drinking?


Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways. This means it can affect a person’s mood and behaviour. It can also affect your critical thinking and make it harder to think clearly. A person can make poor decisions due to the alcohol.


There is strong evidence for linking consumption of alcohol with development of some Cancers. Even those that drink no more than one unit per day, or who occasionally binge drink no more than 4/5 units, can have an increased risk of developing some Cancers. In particular, the following types of Cancer have been indicated, Head and Neck Cancer, Oesophageal Cancer (the Oesophagus is the tube leading from the mouth to the stomach), Liver Cancer, Breast Cancer and Colorectal (bowel) Cancer.

Alcohol is classed as a carcinogen (substance which causes Cancer).


Excess drinking can cause significant issues affecting the heart including Arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats), High Blood Pressure and Stroke. It can even cause damage to the heart itself – Cardiomyopathy.

Immune System

Drinking too much can weaken a person’s immune system. They are more liable to contract Pneumonia and Tuberculosis. It can slow a body’s ability to ward off any infections.


As well as being affected by conditions affecting other organs, alcohol intake can cause and exacerbate dehydration.


The liver will metabolise all poisons and drugs in to forms that are easier for the body to deal with. Alcohol is classed as a poison and, in a person that is a heavy or frequent drinker, this can place strain upon the liver. It can cause a number of different diseases including Cirrhosis, Alcoholic Hepatitis, Fibrosis and a form of Fatty Liver Disease.


It has recently been recognised that alcohol misuse can increase the risk of an acute lung injury following major trauma and also the spread of bacteria attributed to infection (Sepsis).


Can cause Pancreatitis, where a person will experience severe inflammation leading to swelling and pain, resulting in the inability to make the normal enzymes and hormones needed for proper digestion.


There is no safe lower limit for alcohol intake when pregnant. Alcohol abuse can lead to increased chance of miscarriage, adverse effects to the baby’s development, in particular the brain development, restriction in the growth of baby and an increased chance of still birth. The baby is also more likely to be prone to illness in infancy and childhood, and even into adulthood.

Drinking heavily can cause a baby to develop Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder or Foetal Alcohol Syndrome. These can lead to learning difficulties, problems with behaviour, emotional and psychiatric problems that can last a lifetime, along with physical disabilities. In general, the higher the alcohol intake the more severe the symptoms.


Alcohol acts as an irritant in the stomach and can cause Gastritis, Ulcers and bleeding.

In addition to physical health issues alcoholism can cause Mental Health issues and significant social problems, including domestic violence, relationship breakdown, unemployment and homelessness.

For further information Drink Aware has great resources which may be of interest.