I quit drinking – cold turkey – 30 years ago this year. It was the vacant stare of my mother’s eyes that did it. She was completely incapacitated following a number of strokes – could not speak or move; trapped in her body.
I think that alcohol had something to do with it. She had been a heavy drinker for many years.
Shortly after she died, a friend mentioned to me that drinking alcohol was a major factor in hardening of the arteries of the brain. All I could see was my mother’s distant stare; remember her making the three grunting noises that I later realized she was trying to say: “I love you.”
That statement made by my friend affected me so. I didn’t want to end up like my mother – and it set me on the path to realization that I had a problem with alcohol.
I read somewhere that alcohol is not something that the human body cannot effectively metabolize. It’s literally poison to us. Still, because of societal pressure, we force ourselves to become accustomed to it. Any of us who have ever had a drink can probably remember when we first tried it – how sick it made us. That was our body trying to tell us not to drink it.
Alcohol permeates all the cells in your body when you drink. Following are some of its effects:
CANCER~ Alcohol increases the chance of developing cancer of the breast, liver, pancreas, esophagus, mouth, larynx and pharynx. A study involving 1.5 million middle-aged women during 7 years found that drinkers are more likely to develop cancer of the colon, rectum, breast, liver, throat and esophagus. It also concluded that with each drink, no matter how little or what kind of alcohol, the risk for cancer was substantially raised. (Although men were not a part of this study, is it assumed that the risks would be about the same.) In addition, the breakdown of alcohol causes the production of acetylaldehyde, which damages the genetic material in the cells and prevents them from repairing themselves. Acetylaldehyde also can allow the cells to grow at an increased rate; hence the connection to cancer.
LIVER~ Fatty liver, the earliest stage of alcoholic liver disease, causes the body to be ineffective in ridding itself of toxins. In its attempt to deal with the alcohol, the liver produces even more toxins, thus causing further damage. Fibrosis, scarring of tissue in the liver, is the precursor of cirrhosis. Cirrhosis of the liver means that it is unable to remove toxins, fight infections and absorb nutrients. As liver function weakens, jaundice, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance and even liver cancer are probable.
HEART~ Drinking is very hard on the heart. It causes increased chances of developing cardiomyopathy, the stretching of the heart muscle which leads to decreased functioning. Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) as well as heart attack, elevated cholesterol, hypertension (high blood pressure) and stroke are other risks. Heavy alcohol consumption also increases the production of stress hormones which causes blood vessels to constrict.
BONES~ Alcohol’s diuretic actions flush calcium from the bones which increases risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
PANCREAS~ Pancreatitis is a serious inflammation of the pancreas and swelling of its blood vessels wherein the pancreas can no longer properly aid digestion.
BRAIN~ Alcohol shrinks and disrupts brain tissue; may inhibit new cell growth. It can cause depression, agitation, memory loss and behavioral changes.
IMMUNE SYSTEM~ Consuming alcohol weakens the immune system, making an easier pathway for disease. (also see “cancer” above)