We’ve all done it. After a long week of work or carting the kids around, a wind-down cocktail with friends turns into a night of binge drinking. Now the occasional adult beverage won’t kill you. But going on a bender can have serious health consequences. (And we aren’t just talking about feeling like garbage the next morning.) Here’s what happens to your body after a weekend of binge drinking.
For starters, it can alter your DNA
It sounds scary, and it is unfortunately true. Modern research has looked into how environmental factors can impact and change our DNA. Excess alcohol use can reportedly alter your genes, and make them lose some of their identity. These mutations can also be passed down from generation to generation and cause severe health problems, such as cancer.
You suffer brain damage
One weekend of binge drinking will affect your memory and impair your ability to make decisions. Binging over a long period of time puts you at high risk for brain damage. A large number of alcoholics lack certain vitamins in the brain, which can lead to debilitating brain disorders.
Your heart is at high risk
While an occasional glass of red wine can potentially be good for your heart, a weekend binge has the opposite effect. Binge drinking raises your blood pressure and puts you at high risk for heart disease, stroke, and an irregular heartbeat. People with pre-existing health problems like diabetes run the risk of their condition getting worse.
Your chance of cancer multiplies
It’s downright scary how much your chances of getting cancer multiply if you drink to excess. Research has linked binge drinking to a high risk of cancer in the mouth and throat, especially when mixed with smoking cigarettes. Drinking too much has also been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.
You raise your chance of liver disease
It’s no huge secret that your liver pays a hefty price for your weekend of binge drinking. A weekend bender makes it difficult for the liver to break down alcohol, which can lead to hepatitis, cirrhosis, and a heightened risk for liver disease. A damaged liver also lets more toxic byproducts stay in the body and make their way up to your brain, impairing your motor functions.
Your sleep cycle will be thrown out of whack
Ever notice that a couple nights of binge drinking makes you fall asleep quickly, but wake up just a couple hours later? As the Sleep Foundation explains, this is because excess alcohol messes with your circadian rhythms. It also robs you of the ability to get REM sleep, leaving you feeling unfocused the next day.
You could get alcohol poisoning
This shouldn’t come as a shock to you. The more you binge drink, the higher your risk of alcohol poisoning. Since your liver can’t break down alcohol as well, the toxins make their way into the rest of your organs at a rapid rate. In addition to sickness and vomiting, hypothermia and unconsciousness may occur.