The warning is on many bill boards, advertisements on TV and radio. Boldly written on beer bottles is the advice: Drink responsibly.
But the fact that it is there does not mean that people heed it. Many have argued that when one is told not to do something, the urge to do it becomes greater.
While other countries have laws to control harmful use of alcohol, we have yet to have a national drinks limit policy.
But did you know that if you drink at more than moderate level, you may be putting yourself at risk for serious problems with your health, and problems with family, friends, and co-workers?
According to statistics by the Life Expectancy International Report in 2012, alcohol abuse has wreaked havoc globally, as nearly four per cent of all deaths are related to alcohol.
Also, the World Health Organisation, in its Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health, states that 2.5 million people die annually of harmful use of alcohol and causing illness and injury to millions more.
The report states, “Alcohol consumption increasingly affects our younger generation, especially men. We also discovered that 6.2 per cent of male deaths are related to alcohol, compared to 1.1 per cent of female deaths. This is because 50 per cent of men drink alcohol.”
Chief pathologist, Dr. Lanre Shobowale, says downing bottles of beer during the ‘happy hour’ may increase one’s risks of dying of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, liver cirrhosis and kidney failure.
In terms of damage to the liver, Shobowale notes that beer contains some chemicals which, over time, can scar this vital organ of the body. He says the effect of drinking too much alcohol manifests in two ways on the liver.
First, the effect may become acute, and that is when liver problems develop over a few months. Again, the problem may become chronic; meaning that the damage to the liver has spanned a number of years.
Shobowale says, “The liver is the largest organ in the body and it has 500 different roles. One of the liver’s most important functions is to break down food and convert it into energy when you need it. When your liver tries to break down alcohol too frequently, the resulting chemical reaction can damage its cells. This damage can lead to inflammation and scarring as the liver tries to repair itself.
“Alcohol can damage the intestine, which lets toxins from the gut bacteria get into the liver. These toxins can also lead to inflammation and scarring. Some drinkers develop alcoholic hepatitis — or inflammation of the liver — as a result of long-term heavy drinking.”
You also need to protect your heart from the harmful effects of alcohol consumption. The American Heart Association states that although a glass of red wine a day is okay, drinking too much alcohol can raise the levels of some fats in the blood (triglycerides).
It also notes that people who consume too much beer are at a greater risk of developing high blood pressure, heart failure and increased calorie intake. In the meanwhile, too many calories often leads to obesity and a higher risk of developing diabetes and other serious problems, including stroke, cardiomyopathy (diseases of the heart muscle) and sudden cardiac death.
To avoid any of these unfriendly events, the AHA, on its website, recommends abstinence.
It states,” If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. It’s not possible to predict in which people alcoholism will become a problem.
“Given these and other risks, the American Heart Association cautions people not to start drinking if they do not already drink alcohol.
“Red wine is good for the heart, but consult your doctor on the benefits and risks of consuming it, even in moderation.”
Also, experts warn that drinking too much alcohol increases one’s risk of developing certain forms of cancer, especially cancer of the oesophagus, colon, rectum, mouth, throat, and voice box.
Shobowale notes that women are at slightly increased risk of developing breast cancer if they drink one or more drinks per day. He adds that pregnant women shouldn’t drink alcohol in any form, as it could harm the baby, causing birth defects.
Apart from diseases, taking too much alcohol may destroy your relationship with your spouse and children. Its abuse has led to divorce, job loss and loss of lives. There is more to be gained than lost if you make a conscious effort to cut down your alcohol intake today.
By Bukola Adebayo