A couple of drinks of alcohol a day relieves stress, is good for the heart, and makes you live longer. Just look at the French. The paradox has been studied many times. They eat more fat than practically anyone else in the world, and they still have a low incidence of heart disease.
But drink more than a few drinks a day and alcohol can be a very dangerous drug. Besides the loss of lives on the highway and the social implications, alcohol can wreck havoc in many different parts of the body.
Most think of alcohol as only being damaging to the liver, but the grim effects don’t stop there. According to Medical News Today: “Alcohol does much more harm to the body than just damaging the liver. Drinking also can weaken the immune system, slow healing, impair bone formation, increase the risk of HIV transmission and hinder recovery from burns, trauma, bleeding and surgery.”
The results of the study haven’t been released as of yet, but they will be soon. This preliminary study could lead to ways to boost the immune system after it has been damaged by excess alcohol use.
As far as effects on the heart, a little alcohol raises HDL levels and keeps platelets from sticking together. HDL is the so-called “good cholesterol.” Excessive drinking can lead to a condition called “cardiocmyopathy.”
This is where the heart enlarges from the high blood pressure that is caused by the heavy drinking. But even though the heart is enlarged during autopsies of known alcoholics, they found arteries in the heart that were as one cardiologist called it: “clean as a new born baby’s.”
Alcohol’s effects on the liver can be very toxic, causing a fatty liver that leads to cirrhosis and complete liver failure. The only hope for that is a liver transplant.
It’s not like John Belushi says in the movie Animal House: “The liver is not some big mushy gland, it’s a muscle. You have to exercise it.” But it is a great big mushy gland, and it performs a lot of different functions in the body, so you’d better take care of it.
But how can some people like W.C. Fields drink 2+ quarts of liquor a day for twenty years and still not have liver failure? We know that there is a genetic component in alcoholism. Children of alcoholics seem to have a greater tolerance for alcohol. I guess further research needs to be done.