The Effects of Alcohol
Amount of alcohol in your blood?
The amount of alcohol in the blood is known as the blood alcohol
concentration or BAC. Your BAC depends on how much you've drunk and how
quickly you drank it. Other important factors affecting BAC are:
Your size and weight If you're small, your blood alcohol volume is
obviously less than that of someone who is larger. So the same amount of
alcohol will probably affect you more.
Women can't drink as much as men. That's not a male conspiracy but a
biological fact! Women are generally smaller. They also have
proportionately less body water and more body fat - and alcohol doesn't
dissolve easily in fat. That's why, drink for drink, women end up with
more alcohol in their blood than men.
Your water level
If you're dehydrated, alcohol will have a greater effect than if your
body's water concentration is normal. That's why drinking alcohol in
summer or after exercise affects you more.
The amount you've eaten
If you drink a unit of alcohol on an empty stomach, almost all of it
will be absorbed in an hour. But if there's food in your stomach, the
process will be slower and the alcohol reaches your brain and the rest
of your body more slowly.
The downside of drinking too much
Heavy drinking, especially on a regular basis, can lead to serious
health problems, including:
* Alcohol dependence or alcoholism
* Sexual difficulties, including impotence
* Cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer
* Stomach disorders, such as ulcers
* Mood changes
* Brain damage including memory loss or dementia
* Certain types of cancer, especially breast cancer
* Anxiety, stress, depression, poor concentration
* Increased risk of heart disease and certain types of stroke
* Potentially fatal alcohol poisoning
Even getting drunk occasionally can have serious consequences. It
impairs your judgement and can increase risky behaviour, which could
Injuries and accidents
* Unsafe sex, which could result in sexually transmitted infections
and unplanned pregnancies
* Fights, arguments and relationship problems
* Getting into trouble with the police
Even relatively moderate amounts of alcohol can be harmful sometimes.
For instance, when you're pregnant, driving, taking some medications, or
doing sports or activities that need judgement and coordination.