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9 Health Conditions Linked to Drinking

Alcohol dependence is a long-standing problem in the United States. In 2015, over 26 percent of adults took part in binge drinking within the last month from the survey according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. A further 7 percent took part in heavy alcohol use within the last month from the survey. In that year, 15.1 million people (6.2 percent) were affected by alcohol use disorder – a term used to describe various forms of alcohol dependence. Heavy drinkers and alcoholics are at risk of developing several health conditions linked to drinking alcohol.

3 Minute Read | Published Sep 10 2023 | Updated Feb 26 2024 Expert Verified
Emma Collins
Written by
Edwin Gomez
Reviewed by
Emma Collins
Written by
Edwin Gomez
Reviewed by

9 Health Conditions Linked to Drinking Excessive Amounts of Alcohol

In this article, we will look at a list of diseases caused by alcohol and other side effects of heavy alcohol use.

List of Diseases Caused by Alcohol

Alcohol dependence and heavy drinking side effects are attributed to the amount of alcohol a person drinks and how often they drink. In cases where alcohol addiction or dependence has formed, the person is at a higher risk of developing health conditions linked to drinking. A major concern for someone who binge drinks or drinks heavily more frequently is forming an addiction, worsening other health conditions linked to drinking.

The following are some of the diseases and health concerns that binge and heavy drinking can cause:

  • Cancer – Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol is linked to several forms of cancer including mouth, liver, breast, esophagus, pharynx and larynx cancer. Further studies are being conducted and it is possible that many more cancers are linked to heavy alcohol use.
  • Anemia – Heavy drinking can cause a person’s red blood cell count to diminish, leading to a condition known as anemia. Common symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue and lightheadedness.
  • Cardiovascular disease – Excessive drinking, especially binge drinking, is linked to the formation of blood clots. These clots can become stuck, blocking crucial blood flow and leading to strokes and heart attacks. Cardiomyopathy is another one of the heavy drinking side effects – a weakening of the heart that can eventually fail.
  • Dementia – As a person grows older, their brain shrinks about 1.9% each decade. This decay is considered normal, but heavy drinking can speed the process up. It affects crucial areas of the brain that control memory and can result in dementia. Furthermore, problem solving skills and judgment can become impaired.
  • Depression – While some people may use alcohol as a way to self-medicate mental disorders such as depression, studies show that heavy alcohol abuse can also lead to depression where none existed before.
  • Gout – Alcohol abuse alone does not usually lead to gout, but excessive drinking is linked to the aggravation of existing gout conditions.
  • Cirrhosis – Most people know that alcohol has a negative impact on their liver. Alcohol reacts toxically with liver cells, creating permanent damage that can lead to cirrhosis and liver failure. Women tend to be more susceptible to liver damage than men.
  • Seizures – You do not have to have epilepsy to trigger seizures through excessive drinking. Alcohol abuse also negatively interferes with medications used to treat epilepsy.
  • High Blood Pressure – Another one of the health conditions linked to drinking excessive amounts of alcohol on a frequent basis is high blood pressure. Once the condition becomes chronic, a person may be at risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.

It is never too late to get help to stop a drinking problem in its tracks. Call Better Addiction Care today on (800) 429-7690 and allow them to help you find a rehab near you.

Resources

bullet National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (2020)
"Alcohol Use Disorder: A Comparison Between DSM–IV and DSM–5"
Retrieved on November 14, 2017
bullet Rehm, J., Samokhvalov, A. V., Shield, K. D., & Roerecke, M. (2013)
"Global burden of alcoholic liver diseases. Journal of Hepatology, 59(1), 160-168"
Retrieved on November 14, 2017
bullet Rehm, J., Shield, K. D., & Roerecke, M. (2019)
"Gastrointestinal diseases and alcohol. In R. Spanagel & K. R. Sakharkar (Eds.), Alcohol and the Gastrointestinal Tract: Digestive Diseases (pp. 63-82). Switzerland: Springer"
Retrieved on November 14, 2017
bullet Shield, K. D., Parry, C., & Rehm, J. (2013)
"Chronic diseases and conditions related to alcohol use. Alcohol Research: Current Reviews, 35(2), 155-171"
Retrieved on November 14, 2017
bullet Shield, K. D., Soerjomataram, I., & Rehm, J. (2017)
"Alcohol use and breast cancer: A critical review. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 41(1), 1-14"
Retrieved on November 14, 2017
bullet Shield, K. D., Soerjomataram, I., & Rehm, J. (2016)
"Alcohol use and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Alcohol Research: Current Reviews, 38(2), 169-175"
Retrieved on November 14, 2017
bullet Singh, S., Wang, X., Urban, L., & Kass, R. S. (2018)
"Alcohol and the heart: Mechanisms of action and clinical significance. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 71(1), 1-13"
Retrieved on November 14, 2017
bullet World Health Organization (2018)
"Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2018"
Retrieved on November 14, 2017
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