This Is Your Body on Alcohol: Alcohol is one of the most widely celebrated and socially accepted drugs of its time. Even after being outlawed in the 1920s during Prohibition, Americans found ways to keep booze in their lives.

As alcohol has become a staple of social engagements, we sometimes overlook its harmful effects. To raise awareness about the realities of alcohol consumption, here are 10 effects of alcohol on the body:

This Is Your Body on Alcohol – #1: Brain

Alcohol can cause extensive damage to the brain. Upon drinking too much, a person may experience a “blackout,” in which they have trouble remembering moments while under the influence. In reality, this blackout is a drug-related amnesia. Excessive alcohol consumption can cause Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS), a brain disorder that affects memory, speech, vision, and more.

This Is Your Body on Alcohol – #2: Liver

Whether you are a beer drinker or wine enthusiast, all alcohol passes through the liver. Over time, fat can accumulate within the liver, a condition known as fatty liver disease. This can cause inflammation of the liver, which may lead to alcoholic hepatitis. Alcohol abuse can also lead to cirrhosis of the liver, which occurs when liver cells are unable to regenerate.

This Is Your Body on Alcohol – #3: Breasts

As little as one drink per day can increase the risk of breast cancer in both men and women. When consumed, alcohol causes a spike in estrogen levels, a leading risk factor for breast cancer.

This Is Your Body on Alcohol – #4: Stomach

Drinking causes the stomach to produce an excess of acid, which may cause gastritis. Additionally, inflammation and irritation caused by alcohol can lead to ulcers and bleeding along the stomach lining. If you experience stomach pain after a night of drinking, it may be a sign of chronic cholecystitis.

This Is Your Body on Alcohol – #5: Pancreas

Regular alcohol consumption can lead to inflammation of the pancreas, which can lead to pancreatic cancer. Alcohol abuse can also diminish the pancreas’ ability to produce insulin, which may cause diabetes.

This Is Your Body on Alcohol – #6: Heart

Regular alcohol consumption raises blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attack, hypertension, and stroke. Alcohol abuse can also cause drooping and stretching of heart muscle, a condition known as cardiomyopathy.

This Is Your Body on Alcohol – #7: Bones

Alcohol is a diuretic, which flushes out toxins and essential nutrients. Long-term drinking can cause calcium to be flushed from the bones, causing bone deterioration and increasing the risk of fracture and osteoporosis.

This Is Your Body on Alcohol – #8: Central Nervous System

There are many telltale signs when a person has had too much to drink. Slurred speech, memory impairment, and decreased reaction time are just a few signs a person may be under the influence of alcohol. While these symptoms are usually only temporary, long-term alcohol abuse damage cells within the central nervous system. This may lead to neuropathy, a condition characterized by weakness, pain, and numbness in hands and feet.

This Is Your Body on Alcohol – #9: Immune System

Excessive alcohol consumption can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to diseases such as pneumonia and tuberculosis. 

This Is Your Body on Alcohol – #10: Colon

Regular alcohol consumption can lead to the development of adenomas, small benign tumors that exist in the colon.