The short-term effects of alcohol can be pleasurable, but heavy use and abuse can have a devastating effect on your body:
- Alcohol can diminish motor coordination, judgment, emotional control, and reasoning power, increasing your risk of accidents and injuries and your vulnerability to violence.
- Chronic, heavy drinking can contribute to a wide range of reproductive disorders, including irregular menstrual cycles and early menopause.
- Even average levels of drinking can increase the risk of mouth, esophageal, and liver cancer; major depression; epilepsy; hemorrhagic stroke; cirrhosis of the liver; and other diseases.
- Women develop alcohol-related liver disease after a comparatively shorter period of heavy drinking than do men. Other alcohol-related health risks that are higher for women include hypertension (high blood pressure), particularly for African-American women, and an increased risk of osteoporosis (thinning of bones), gastric ulcers, and alcoholic hepatitis.
- Some studies have linked alcohol use with increased risk for breast cancer. Postmenopausal women using hormone treatment, which is a known risk factor for breast cancer, and drinking even moderate amounts of alcohol have a higher risk of developing the disease than nondrinkers who take hormone treatment.
- With age, and cumulative alcohol and other drug use, your body has more difficulty processing mood-altering substances, increasing the risk of harmful interactions and drug tolerance.