Alcohol Effects on the Pancreas


It is widely believed that large amounts of alcohol consumption can cause damage to the pancreas. Alcohol harms the pancreas by lessening the amount of digestive enzymes that are released by the pancreas, which therefore causes inflammation and leaking of the digestive enzymes. The digestive enzymes then attack the pancreas. Significant alcohol ingestion can also cause a condition of the pancreas called acute pancreatitis.

Acute Pancreatitis

This condition is caused by the rapid inflammation of the pancreas. Heavy alcohol consumption is one of the primary causes of this condition, although other causes such as trauma, heredity, triglycerides, drugs and gallstones and gallstone diseases are also possible.


Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to pancreatitis which can then lead to individuals being at much higher risk for developing pancreatic cancer. Pancreatitis comes with mild to severe pain in abdominal area that comes and goes in waves. The pain could even spread to the back. Vomiting and nausea are also common to pancreatitis. Sweating, nervousness and weakness are also effects of pancreatitis attacks. Attacks might even require hospitalization to withhold foods and liquids.


It is believed that 4/5ths of pancreatitis conditions are caused by excessive alcohol consumption. However, for individuals who do not have an alcohol problem or have never had one, other causes of this pancreas disorder are parathyroid gland overactivity, autoimmune diseases and others.


Research conducted in 2008 by the University of Toronto and University Health Network proved the damage done to the pancreas by alcohol consumption, by testing the theory out on rats. Rodents who had alcohol included in their diet developed pancreas inflammation not unlike what happens to humans who consume too much alcohol.


People with mild forms of pancreatis generally can get the issue resolved by both supportive therapy and abstaining from alcohol consumption entirely. However, individuals with severe pancreatitis have a severe chance for fatality, which is mostly related to the degree of pancreatic infection. Surgery is required for these situations.

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