What Are the Effects of Excessive Drinking?


Quick Answer

Possible effects of excessive drinking include anemia, cancer and cardiovascular disease, according to WebMD. Chronically drinking too much alcohol can also lead to cirrhosis, dementia or depression. Other risks associated with excessive drinking include seizures and gout.

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Full Answer

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol may lower the red blood cell count, notes WebMD. This is problematic because red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body. The resulting condition is anemia, which includes symptoms such as lightheadedness, shortness of breath and fatigue.

The body converts alcohol into acetaldehyde, which is known to be a strong carcinogen, states WebMD. For this reason, chronic alcohol consumption may lead to cancer in the throat, larynx, mouth or esophagus. Other sites at increased risk of cancer include the breast, liver and colorectal area.

Chronic drinking may cause blood clots, which can lead to cardiovascular problems such as heart attack or stroke, according to WebMD. Binge drinking may be responsible for multiple other health conditions associated with the heart.

Because alcohol is toxic to cells in the liver, drinking excessively can lead to cirrhosis, which is when the liver becomes too scarred to function properly, notes WebMD. Cirrhosis is very unpredictable, but experts believe that women are at a higher risk. Excessive drinking causes certain parts of the brain to shrink more quickly than normal, which may lead to memory problems and other dementia symptoms.

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