Long-term effects of alcohol consumption
The long-term effects of alcohol (ethanol) consumption range from cardioprotective health benefits for low to moderate alcohol consumption in industrialized societies with higher rates of cardiovascular disease to severe detrimental effects in cases of chronic alcohol abuse. Health effects associated with alcohol intake in large amounts include an increased risk of alcoholism, malnutrition, chronic pancreatitis, alcoholic liver disease and cancer. In addition, damage to the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system can occur from chronic alcohol abuse. The long-term use of alcohol is capable of damaging nearly every organ and system in the body. The developing adolescent brain is particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of alcohol. In addition, the developing fetal brain is also vulnerable, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) may result if pregnant mothers consume alcohol.The inverse relation in Western cultures between alcohol consumption and cardiovascular disease has been known for over 100 years. Many physicians do not promote alcohol consumption, however, given the many health concerns associated with it, some suggest that alcohol should be regarded as a recreational drug, and promote exercise and good nutrition to combat cardiovascular disease. Others have argued that the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption may be outweighed by other increased risks, including those of injuries, violence, fetal damage, liver disease, and certain forms of cancer.Withdrawal effects and dependence are also almost identical. Alcohol at moderate levels has some positive and negative effects on health. The negative effects include increased risk of liver diseases, oropharyngeal cancer, esophageal cancer and pancreatitis. Conversely moderate intake of alcohol may have some beneficial effects on gastritis and cholelithiasis. Of the total number of deaths and diseases caused by alcohol, most happen to the majority of the population who are moderate drinkers, rather than the heavy drinker minority. Chronic alcohol misuse and abuse has serious effects on physical and mental health. Chronic excess alcohol intake, or alcohol dependence, can lead to a wide range of neuropsychiatric or neurological impairment, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, and malignant neoplasms. The psychiatric disorders which are associated with alcoholism include major depression, dysthymia, mania, hypomania, panic disorder, phobias, generalized anxiety disorder, personality disorders, schizophrenia, suicide, neurologic deficits (e.g. impairments of working memory, emotions, executive functions, visuospatial abilities and gait and balance) and brain damage. Alcohol dependence is associated with hypertension, coronary heart disease, and ischemic stroke, cancer of the respiratory system, and also cancers of the digestive system, liver, breast and ovaries. Heavy drinking is associated with liver disease, such as cirrhosis. Excessive alcohol consumption can have a negative impact on aging.Recent studies have focused on understanding the mechanisms by which moderate alcohol consumption confers cardiovascular benefit.