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No Amount of Alcohol Is Good for Your Overall Health, Global Study Says

It may not be something you want to hear, but CNN reports there is no amount of alcohol — no matter what form it comes in — that is safe for your overall health. A recent study published in The Lancet shows that alcohol is a leading risk factor for premature death in men and women ages 15 to 49, worldwide, and is responsible for 1 in every 10 deaths, CNN said. Researchers counted alcohol-related cancer and cardiovascular deaths to come up with this figure, as well as certain infectious diseases and other causes such as both intentional and unintentional injuries.

With more than 1 in 8 Americans now labeled as alcoholics, this is news worth paying attention to. However, with the opioid epidemic crowding the headlines, many people don’t realize alcohol addiction not only is real but increasing. Most concerning is that increases in alcohol use, high-risk drinking and alcohol use disorder are greatest among women, older adults, racial/ethnic minorities and those with lower educational levels and family income.

Aside from the more obvious adverse effects of misuse of alcohol, such as accidents, alcohol poisoning and risky behaviors, to name a few, some of the more serious health effects include such things as:

  • High blood pressure, stroke and cardiovascular disease
  • Digestive Problems
  • Learning and memory problems
  • Mental health problems
  • Cancer of the breast, colon, throat, esophagus and liver

When it comes to cancer, there are several ways alcohol may influence your risk of developing cancer. The American Cancer Society warns just a few drinks each week can increase your risk of breast cancer. The risk is higher in women who have low folate levels. Alcohol also affects your hormones, and an increased estrogen level triggered by alcohol is linked to breast cancer. Hormone levels are also affected in men, which can lead to infertility.

Besides triggering changes in your DNA, alcohol affects your limbic system that controls your emotions, which is why alcohol lowers your inhibitions. Your prefrontal cortex, a brain region associated with reasoning and judgment, also slows in response to alcohol, leading to more impulsive behavior and poor judgment.

Another thing worth noting is that some people may think that, because they're not suffering from alcoholism, they're not risking their health from heavy drinking. But, according to the CDC, 90 percent of people who drink excessively do not have an alcohol use disorder.

If you want to cut back on drinking, exercise is essential. When you drink, it chemically alters your brain to release dopamine, a chemical your brain associates with rewarding behaviors. When you exercise, this same reward chemical is released, which means you can a similar "buzz" from working out to that you can get from alcohol.

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