What Happens When You Drink Alcohol Daily?

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Drinking alcohol every day can have health benefits, but only if you don't smoke and if you stay within recommended limits, which is one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. The limit for women is lower because they tend to be smaller and they metabolize alcohol more quickly than men. One drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor.

Benefits

  • Light to moderate alcohol consumption can reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, gallstones and diabetes, according to the Mayo Clinic. These benefits are most pronounced if you are older or already have some risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure. Younger adults won't get as much of a health advantage, and women who drink even a few times per week are at a higher risk of getting breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

Heart Disease

  • While drinking a few drinks at a time only temporarily raises your blood pressure, drinking heavily consistently can lead to long-term increases in blood pressure. According to the Mayo Clinic, consistent, heavy use of alcohol can also cause heart muscle damage that can lead to heart failure, as well as strokes. Plus, alcohol contains calories, and consuming excess calories can cause people to be overweight, which puts them at increased risk of heart disease.

Liver Disease

  • Liver disease can be caused by excessive alcohol use, according to the Canadian Liver Foundation. When you drink too much alcohol, the liver cannot function normally. If the liver has to detoxify alcohol consistently, such as when you drink every day, it can lead to the destruction or alteration of liver cells, causing fatty deposits. More serious complications include inflammation, known as alcoholic hepatitis, or permanent scarring, known as cirrhosis.

Cancer

  • According to the American Cancer Society, a variety of types of cancer are linked to alcohol use, including mouth, throat, liver, breast and colon cancers. If you smoke, drinking alcohol can help the chemicals from tobacco to enter the tissue in the upper digestive track, increasing the risk of throat cancer. Alcohol also reduces the body's ability to absorb folate, and low folate levels increase the risk of breast and colon cancers.

References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images
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