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Alcohol is such a big risk factor for so many health conditions, drinking alcohol cannot be considered a good way to improve your health.

There is no firm evidence to suggest that drinking alcohol is a way to improve health. Any possible benefits only apply to very specific groups of people. For example, there is some evidence that the risk of cardio-vascular disease is lower in some (usually older) people who drink a very small amount of alcohol (half to 1 standard drink a day), but it is hard to prove if these benefits are due to alcohol or to other genetic or lifestyle differences.

Any benefits are reversed as soon as the amount of alcohol increases - alcohol is a risk factor for heart disease and high blood pressure. There are better ways to reduce your risk of heart disease, like taking more exercise or having a healthy diet.

Alcohol is no medicine: When it comes to alcohol, the risks far outweigh any possible benefits.

Alcohol is a neuro-toxin - this means that it has a toxic effect on our nervous system (a system controlled by the brain).

Alcohol disrupts your brain chemistry, leading to the symptoms of drunkenness.

Alcohol can cause long lasting changes to the brain to the as well. If large amounts of alcohol are being consumed, the toxic properties of the alcohol can begin to damage the brain. This damage can cause changes in a person’s memory, thinking skills and other important brain-based skills such as concentration, problems solving and reasoning/ judgement. Read more about alcohol and the brain.

The following symptoms can be caused by alcohol or alcohol-related problems. They can also be caused by other conditions. If you are worried, go to your GP.

Physical symptoms

    • Reflux or heartburn 
    • Tummy pain 
    • Fatigue (extreme tiredness) 
    • Dizziness / light-headedness 
    • Skin rashes / dry skin 
    • Poor sleep 
    • Sexual problems like erectile dysfunction 
    • Weak muscles 
    • Swollen legs or feet 
    • Shortness of breath 
    • Poor appetite 
    • Swollen tummy 
    • Yellow pallor due to liver disease
    • Itching 
    • Irregular or rapid heartbeat Weakened immune system
    • Mental symptoms
    • Memory problems 
    • Concentration problems 
    • Personality changes 
    • Increased anxiety
    • Chronic diseases such as liver cirrhosis (damage to liver cells); pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas); various cancers, including liver, mouth, throat, larynx (the voice box), and oesophagus, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, digestive problems
    • Mental health problems like depression, anxiety, mood changes, personality changes and cognitive impairment
    • Harm to a developing baby if a woman drinks while pregnant, such as foetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
    • Alcohol abuse or dependence.

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