How Dangerous is Drinking to my Health?

Heavy drinkers may be in for more than a hangover. According to recent studies, those who drink heavily on a regular basis face an increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation, a common heart rhythm disorder. Even moderate drinkers are at risk and should think twice before having another glass of wine.

Researchers analyzed 14 past studies to find information on the heaviest drinkers, ranging from one or two up to six alcoholic beverages per day, depending on the study. They found that heavy drinkers had a 51 percent increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation over either non-drinkers or moderate drinkers. However, moderate drinkers also had a higher risk of AF than non-drinkers, showing an 8 percent increase in risk for every 10 grams of alcohol consumed per day.

Though moderate consumption in women did not seem to be a link to atrial fibrillation. Women metabolize alcohol differently than men and studies have found that liver damage, brain damage and even breast cancer can develop in moderate women drinkers.

Research demonstrates “low-risk” drinking levels for men are no more than 4 drinks on any single day AND no more than 14 drinks per week. For women, “low-risk” drinking levels are no more than three drinks on any single day AND no more than seven drinks per week. To stay low-risk, you must keep within both the single-day and weekly limits according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse.

Even within these limits, you can have problems if you drink too quickly, have health conditions, or are over age 65. Older adults should have no more than three drinks on any day and no more than seven drinks per week.

Alcohol can create brain disturbances and long-term effects in the reduction of brain cells. Brain mass can actually shrink and changes may include motor coordination, temperature regulation, sleep issue, mood changes, and cognitive functions that include the damage to learning and memory. In some instances, not drinking alcohol over a period of several months can reverse some of the negative affects.

When it comes to life insurance, alcohol will affect life insurance rates. During underwriting, just like considerations with high blood pressure and weight issues, alcohol consumption is determined by specific guidelines. Your driving record and medical examination are two of them. Blood tests can provide elevated enzymes in your liver that indicate a problem with alcohol.

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