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Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs

Your Body

It's common knowledge that alcohol has both short-term and long-term effects on various organs in your body. Alcohol can also impact your sleep, immune system, memory retention, and breast cancer risks.

Alcohol and sleep

Sleep is thought to be essential in processing memory from short-term to long-term. Drinking alcohol after you have studied for a class can hinder your body's ability to process the new information you learned.

Alcohol and anxiety

Alcohol consumed in high amounts, in a short period of time, can diminish your ability to manage and alleviate feelings of anxiety. Your ability to handle stressful, anxiety-provoking situations is impaired because it's more difficult to thoroughly consider all of your options and potential solutions to alleviate anxiety. You're more prone to dwell on the problem (which causes more anxiety) than to think about a novel way of approaching it. Alcohol amplifies your emotional state.

Alcohol and the immune system

Both acute and chronic exposure to alcohol suppresses all branches of your immune system, including early responses to infection and tumor detection. Alcohol decreases your body's ability to recruit and activate white blood cells vital in fending off infection. While there is some benefit in the antioxidants present in red wine, the benefits are lost if levels of alcohol consumption are elevated.

For more detailed information on the mechanics of alcohol's impact on your immune system, in addition to gender-specific information on alcohol's immune impact, check out this article from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

Alcohol and breast cancer

This is a sobering thought: The incidence of breast cancer increases in people who consume alcohol. Since alcohol alters the body's immune response, it is thought that alcohol hinders both the immune cells' ability to communicate with each other and their prevalence in the body. Women in particular are greatly affected by high-risk alcohol levels because of the negative impact alcohol has on gonadal production of estrogen, which is an immune stimulant.

The risk of health effects and others are the reason that the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) set low-risk drinking guidelines.

 

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Boynton Health

410 Church Street S.E.
Minneapolis, MN, 55455

P: 612-625-8400 | F: 612-625-1434