Alcohol awareness…what does that even mean? I’m pretty sure we’re all aware that alcohol exists. What else do we need to be aware of? Well, if you’re on a quest for better health that journey should begin with alcohol awareness. Separating the myths from the realities and taking control of what you’d like your relationship with alcohol to look like. Often overlooked on our wellness journeys, alcohol’s impact on our health can’t be denied.
The Hard Facts
Excessive alcohol use is responsible for more than 95,000 deaths in the United States each year, or 261 deaths per day. Excessive alcohol use is a leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and cost the nation $249 billion in 2010. Preventable death means deaths that can be avoided through interventions. Examples are behavior and lifestyle changes, improving the socioeconomic status, and bettering environmental conditions. Alcohol awareness is one of the ways we can contribute to mitigating those preventable deaths.
No Safe Level of Consumption
There is no safe level of alcohol consumption according to a 2018 study published in The Lancet. So whether you’re a daily drinker, a binge drinker, or an occasional imbiber all of these levels of drinking come with risks. A sharp rise in severe alcohol-related liver disease has also been seen, especially in young adults. Researchers have seen an increase in those who are at greater risk of cirrhosis, liver cancer, and death, according to a study published in JAMA.
The Big C
Many of us live in fear of cancer. We slather on the sunscreen, limit red meat, and try to adhere to the other factors that can prevent the disease. Alcohol is still often touted for its health benefits despite being declared a carcinogen in 1988.
Cancers of the breast, mouth, upper throat, bowel, liver, esophagus, and larynx (voice box) are all linked to alcohol use. It also contributes to pancreatic cancer.
“When it comes to alcohol consumption and cancers, clearly excessive drinking is the riskiest type of drinking. But when it comes to cancer, there is no safe level of alcohol consumption.” says Dr. Timothy Naimi, an associate professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine. In a meta-analysis done in 2013 across 92,000 light drinkers and 60,000 non-drinkers, light drinking was associated with higher cancer risk across many types of cancers, including breast cancer.
In the U.S., alcohol consumption causes 20,000 cancer deaths annually, or about 3.5 percent of all cancer-related deaths. Once again – preventable deaths.
What’s Your Type?
Drinking alcohol increases your risk of developing Type II diabetes. The empty calories and sugars in alcohol turn into glucose very quickly. In response, your body releases insulin to take care of it. Releasing more and more insulin raises your risk of developing Type II diabetes. Taking part in The Alcohol Experiment can reverse that. Glucose levels can drop by up to 16 percent in the first month alone. Blood sugars will stabilize within 24 hours of not drinking, so you’ll feel better almost instantly.
Alcohol awareness is crucial when it comes to heart health. Drinking alcohol increases bad cholesterol levels. This cholesterol builds up in your blood vessels leading to blockages, clots, and related medical issues. High blood pressure, heart attacks, and even strokes are possible due to higher cholesterol levels. Stopping drinking drops your cholesterol levels by around five percent initially. The longer you abstain, the greater reduction in cholesterol levels you’ll see.
Alcohol is often what we rely on to deal with stress. The irony is that alcohol increases the very feelings that cause us to feel stressed in the first place. Alcohol disrupts endorphins, serotonin, and other chemicals that your brain puts out to help you deal with stressful situations naturally. Alcohol increases the cortisol and other negative hormones your brain produces. Drinking a depressant to deal with depression is bad enough but we’re also throwing back an anxiety inducer to alleviate anxiety. Another area where alcohol awareness can really benefit us! In fact, a survey from One Year, No Beer revealed that those taking a four-week break from alcohol reported feeling 92 percent happier than while they were drinking.
Alcohol Awareness and Your Health
Alcohol awareness isn’t about issuing ultimatums or trying to shame or guilt anyone into never drinking again. It is simply about becoming conscious of the risks surrounding alcohol use that we often do not hear about. Knowledge is power and being able to make educated decisions around drinking should only serve to empower you.