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What effects does alcohol have on the kidneys?

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Quick Answer

Alcohol affects the kidney's ability to filter harmful substances from the blood and to maintain an optimal water content level in the body, according to the National Kidney Foundation. It causes dehydration in the body organs and cells. While the occasional alcoholic drink does little harm, heavy or chronic alcohol drinking may cause high blood pressure, liver disease, kidney disease and acute kidney injury in which kidney function is severely hampered.

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A single alcoholic drink is a shot of hard liquor, a 12-ounce beer bottle or a glass of wine, and heavy drinking for women and men is more than seven drinks and more than 14 drinks in a week, respectively, explains the National Kidney Foundation. Those who want to maintain their health should always drink in moderation, which is a single drink for women and one or two drinks for men in a day. Doctors caution women, seniors and those with slight body frames against heavy alcohol drinking, as they are at higher risk of developing complications. However, expectant women, those with health conditions exacerbated by alcohol drinking and those taking medications that interact negatively with alcohol, such as medications for high blood pressure, should not drink at all.

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