For many Americans, beer isn’t just a beverage, it’s a part of the culture. College students on campuses nationwide routinely do keg stands and partake in beer pong tournaments. Craft beer enthusiasts take pride in home brewing their own formulas and flavors. And many sports fans crack open a cold one before sitting down to enjoy an afternoon game.
Drinking beer in moderation is generally considered safe. But it’s important to remember that beer contains alcohol, an extremely addictive substance with a high potential for abuse and dependency. When consumed in large quantities, beer can pose significant dangers to your health and wellbeing. Here are just a few of the ways that excessive beer drinking can put your mind and your body at risk.
1. Liver Disease
All the beer you consume passes through your liver, which breaks down the alcohol so it can be removed from your body. But if you drink more alcohol than your liver can handle, you can cause severe, irreversible damage to your cells. Over time, this can lead to chronic, life-threatening illnesses, such as hepatitis, fatty liver disease, and cirrhosis. According to the American Liver Foundation, between 10 and 20 percent of heavy alcohol drinkers will develop cirrhosis, resulting in serious scarring and malfunction of the liver.
2. Brain Damage
It’s not uncommon to find teenagers huddled around a keg of beer at a high school party. According to the National Institute of Health, about 65 percent of adolescents have had at least one alcoholic drink by age 18. But people aged 12 to 20 are at the highest risk of binge drinking, which can lead to serious damage to an adolescent’s still-developing brain. And adults who drink alcohol aren’t safe from brain damage, either. Chronic alcohol consumption is associated with short-term memory dysfunction, problems with depth perception, and an increased inability to concentrate.
When compared with other alcoholic beverages, beer generally has a lower alcohol content and a higher number of calories. This means people can end up drinking a lot of beer to achieve their desired buzz. But consuming all those empty calories can lead to massive weight gain. In addition, beer interferes with your blood sugar levels, causing you to feel hungry when your body doesn’t need the food. This contributes to a higher risk of obesity, which in turn carries its own health complications, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Excessive alcohol consumption can impact your body’s ability to break down and absorb essential vitamins and nutrients. It can also result in an overproduction of a toxic chemical called acetaldehyde, which has been found to damage human DNA. According to the National Institute of Health, the combination of these two factors presents a higher risk of developing certain kinds of cancer, such as liver, breast, and colorectal. Certain studies have also found a causal link specifically between stomach cancer and beer.
5. Mental Illness
Very often, alcohol addiction co-occurs with mental illness. People will often drink beer to self-medicate against the symptoms of anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder. But alcohol is a depressant, and can exacerbate feelings of sadness, anger, and fear. This creates a vicious cycle in which alcohol abuse worsens the symptoms of a mental health condition, making it harder for people to get the help they need to recover.
If you think beer is “just beer,” think again. Beer has health dangers
Beer can be just as problematic as any other alcoholic beverage. Its addictive nature potentially leads to alcohol abuse, alcohol dependency, and significant health complications. If you think you might be drinking too much beer, or any other kind of alcohol, help is available. Speak with your doctor or an addiction specialist. It’s not too late to take control of your health. Give us a call at (858) 784-7867.