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The physiological effects of alcohol on the human body

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Introduction

The physiological effects of alcohol on the human body Alcohol affects our body in many ways; initially it comes into contact with the mouth linings, oesophagus, stomach and intestine, where it acts as an irritant and"anaesthesia," (causing insensitivity to pain with or without loss of consciousness). Only 20% of ingested alcohol is absorbed through the intestinal linings directly into the blood stream, reaching every cell in the body. Alcohol "depresses," or slows down, the functioning of the body's cells and organs until they are less efficient. The brain, liver, heart, pancreas, lungs, kidneys, and every other organ and tissue system in the body are infiltrated by alcohol within minutes of it passing into the blood stream. After consumption alcohol is distributed throughout the body via a variety of systems; the circularatory system, the digestive system and the renal system being its main pathways. The body is very complex and every cell of the body is affected by alcohol consumption, by focusing on these important systems this investigation aims to highlight the effects that alcohol consumption has on the body, both short term and long term. ...read more.

Middle

In the long term due to an over worked pancreas may cease insulin production resulting in diabetes. A person with a family history of diabetes may be more vulnerable to problems with alcohol. The pancreas also has a role in digesting the food we eat; long term heavy drinking can lead to pancreatitis- inflammation of the pancreas. Acute pancreatitis can cause sever pain in the abdominal region and can be fatal. Chronic pancreatitis is associated with chronic pain, diarrhoea and weight loss. Alcohol consumption has been reported to have both positive and negative effects on the cardiovascular system. Alcohol consumption, at any level tends to raise blood pressure, this could increase the risk of diseases associated with increased blood pressure, such as heart attacks and strokes. Alcohol can also raise the levels of triglyceride levels in the blood and so complicating the effects of raised blood cholesterol levels, when present. Very heavy alcohol intake can cause cardiomyopathy with heart failure and heavy binge drinking is associated with stroke. Moderate alcohol intake i.e. 2 standard drinks of alcohol daily for women and no more than for males is not associated with higher cardiovascular mortality than that of none alcohol drinkers and can be associated with slightly lower mortality. ...read more.

Conclusion

It affects both men and women of all ages and can be linked to a variety of diseases and disorders, ranging from cancer to asthma. Alcohol is metabolised extremely quickly within our bodies, unlike foods which require time for digestion, alcohol needs no digestion and is quickly absorbed. Around 20% is absorbed directly across the walls of an empty stomach and can reach the brain within one minute. Though alcohol affects all areas within the body it most dramatic impact is on the liver, as the liver cells usually prefer fatty acids as fuel. The fatty acids are usually converted to triglycerides and then distributed to the rest of the body. With alcohol present however liver cells are forced to first metabolise the alcohol, letting the fatty acids accumulate. Overloading of the liver with alcohol sometimes means the liver cannot metabolise the alcohol and so it is distributed more quickly around the body and reaching other systems and organs much more quickly, circulating until the liver enzymes are finally able to process it. Although alcohol has been proven to have a positive affect in some instances popularly in red wine to strengthen cardiac muscle, it also has adverse effects both long term and short term, effects which far out-weigh its benefits. ...read more.

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