Alcohol, Some Sobering Facts (cont.)
Heart disease. Moderate drinking can have beneficial effects on the heart, especially among those at greatest risk for heart attacks, such as men over the age of 45 and women after menopause. But long-term heavy drinking increases the risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and some kinds of stroke.
Cancer. Long-term heavy drinking increases the risk of developing certain forms of cancer, especially cancer of the esophagus, mouth, throat, and voice box. Women are at slightly increased risk of developing breast cancer if they drink two or more drinks per day. Drinking may also increase the risk for developing cancer of the colon and rectum.
Pancreatitis. The pancreas helps to regulate the body's blood sugar
levels by producing insulin. The pancreas also has a role in digesting the food
we eat. Long-term heavy drinking can lead to pancreatitis, or inflammation of
the pancreas. This condition is associated with severe abdominal pain and weight
loss and can be fatal.
Portions of the above information was provided with the kind permission of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/harm-al.htm).
Last Editorial Review: 11/8/2002