These Deadly Diseases Are Proof Drinking Is Just as Dangerous as Other Drugs

What’s the best part about the 9-to-5 work grind? Happy hour, of course. But while you’re busy at the bar going for your third cocktail by 7 p.m., you could be doing more damage to your body than you realize. There are some sinister effects alcohol can have on your body that you’re probably not even aware of.

You’re severely increasing your chances of getting one of these diseases with a heavy drinking habit– many of which can kill you.

1. Cancer

The diagnosis Colon Cancer written on a clipboard

You’re significantly increasing your risk for developing colon cancer with a drinking habit. | iStock.com/Zerbor

Yes, you read right — your drinking habit could lead to cancer. A literature review in the journal Addiction says drinking could cause seven different types of cancer, namely in the mouth, esophagus, liver, colon, rectum, and breast.

2. Dementia

brain and label to indicate Alzheimer's disease

Sorry, but there’s still no cure for Alzheimer’s disease if your drinking habit causes it. | iStock.com

Your college days of binge drinking until you passed out could have hurt your brain more than you thought. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia, but that’s just one form of the disease. The term actually encompasses many different conditions causing memory loss, confusion, and general mental decline, says American Addiction Centers. And according to a study from the journal Epidemiology, heavy drinkers, particularly those who binge drink during the midlife years, are absolutely increasing their risk.

3. Pancreatitis

Illustration of male pancreas anatomy

Heavy drinking can severely damage this organ. | iStock.com/sankalpmaya

Your pancreas is the small organ behind your stomach and below your ribcage that you probably don’t pay much attention to, but it has an important job. Drinkaware explains your pancreas creates digestive juices and hormones to help out with this process.

If you love to drink, though, you could be damaging the cells of this organ, causing inflammation known as pancreatitis. If the case is severe enough, this can lead to jaundice, recurring back pain, or even kidney failure. And chronic pancreatitis can increase your risk for diabetes and cancer, too.

4. Depression

A sad and depressed young man

If depression runs in your family, lay off the alcohol. | iStock.com/lolostock

An alcoholic beverage every now and then won’t lead to full-blown depression, but if you’re already feeling a little down, your drinking habit is sure to make those feelings a whole lot worse. ULifeline explains if depression runs in your family, drinking heavily might bring out that genetic disposition, making you more vulnerable. And alcohol is a depressant, which is why a drink or two can feel relaxing after a long day. However, sedating your system in this way on a regular basis can lead to lasting feelings of sadness.

5. Osteoporosis

senior with painful arm during rehabilitation

Drinking can cause you to lose density in your bones. | iStock.com/KatarzynaBialasiewicz

A heavy drinking habit affects your bones significantly. If you’re unfamiliar with the disease, WebMD says it’s a condition in which your bones become brittle and easily fractured because they lose density. Having a family history of the disease and not getting proper nutrients are both risk factors for developing osteoporosis, but so is heavy drinking.

Alcohol consumption is linked to reduced levels of calcium — a nutrient necessary for strong bones, as you know. And here’s the scary part: You can start to develop this disease for years without realizing it.

6. Heart disease

young businesswoman having heart attack or chest pain

Alcohol is really, really bad for your heart. | iStock.com/michaeljung

Overdoing it at the bar can do serious damage to one of the most important muscles in your body — the heart. The American Heart Association reminds us alcohol can raise the levels of fat in the blood, which can lead to high cholesterol levels. Also, drinking is associated with high blood pressure when done in excess, and it can cause blood clots to occur that can lead to a stroke.

And as for the heart muscle, drinking is associated with cardiomyopathy, a disease that makes the heart thick and enlarged. This can cause the organ to fail.

7. Cirrhosis

woman in gray undershirt feeling stomach pain

Chronic cirrhosis can lead to death if left untreated. | iStock.com/GeorgeRudy

Of course, the liver doesn’t get away unscathed when it comes to alcohol consumption. Essentially, this organ is your body’s impurity remover, Healthline explains. It’s there to filter the toxins out of your blood and create bile so you can absorb healthy fats. However, when you make heavy drinking a habit, scar tissue replaces the healthy liver tissue. This can lead to cirrhosis, an advanced form of liver disease where the organ can’t work as the filtration system it’s meant to be.

Cirrhosis needs to be taken very seriously, as it can lead to internal bleeding or a buildup of fluid in your stomach. Without treatment, it’s possible you’ll need a liver transplant to live.

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