Short-term consequences which depend on the blood alcohol level
Alcohol is a psychoactive product. It changes consciousness and perceptions, and therefore feelings and behaviors. The immediate effects depend mainly on the blood alcohol level.
An increased risk of road accident
Even if the person does not realize it, the effects of alcohol start to appear from the first drink. Alcohol increases reaction time. It decreases reflexes, alertness and resistance to fatigue. It also disrupts vision, the estimation of distances and the coordination of movements. In addition, its disinhibiting effect leads one to underestimate the danger and thus to take risks: “forgetting” to buckle up or wear a helmet, excessive speed, and so on.
The risk of being responsible for a fatal traffic accident is multiplied by 8 in the event of alcohol consumption. This risk increases very rapidly depending on the alcohol level in the blood: it is multiplied by 6 for a rate between 0.5 and 0.8 g / l, and by 40 for a rate greater than 2 g / l.
An increase in psychosocial risks
- hetero-aggression, including domestic violence
- unprotected and/or unwanted sex
Medium and long term consequences even with low consumption
Even without being a very heavy consumer or alcohol-dependent, alcohol consumption has an influence on the development of many pathologies: cancer, cardiovascular and digestive diseases, diseases of the nervous system and mental disorders … Alcohol can also be at the origin of more banal difficulties like fatigue, too high blood pressure, sleep disorders, memory or concentration problems, etc.
Alcohol is a proven carcinogen (group 1) classified as such since 1988 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
The risk of developing certain cancers increases from a daily glass of alcohol regardless of the alcohol consumed whether it is wine, beer or hard liquor. Thus, 19% of cancers attributable to alcohol develop in men who drink less than 40g of alcohol per day and in women who consume less than 20g of alcohol per day.
In France in 2015, 8% of cancers were attributable to alcohol, or around 28,000 cancers. It is the second cause of preventable cancer after tobacco. This represents approximately 28,000 cancers attributable to alcohol in France, out of the 352,000 new cases of cancer affecting adults over 30 years of age each year.
Seven cancer sites have a proven link with alcohol consumption: cancers of the mouth, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, liver, colon-rectum and breast
Regular alcohol consumption raises blood pressure and increases the risk of hypertension.
The effect of alcohol on blood pressure is dose dependent, but the risk of high blood pressure increases differently in men and women:
in men: Any alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure.
in women: the risk is increased for consuming more than 30 g of alcohol per day.
It also promotes the risk of cerebrovascular accidents (hemorrhagic stroke) and atrial fibrillation (increased risk of occurrence from 10g of alcohol per day in men and 30g of alcohol per day in women).
There is a dose dependent effect between alcohol consumption and cirrhosis. At the origin of progressive destruction of hepatic cells replaced by fibrous tissue, cirrhosis is significantly increased after consumption:
In women from 24 to 36g of alcohol per day
In men from 36 to 48g of alcohol per day
Mortality from cirrhosis is significantly increased for any alcohol consumption in women and from consumption of 12 to 24g of alcohol per day in men.
Effects on the brain
In addition to disturbances in attention, concentration, memory, abstraction capacities and executive functions, chronic alcohol intoxication can be the cause of Korsakoff syndrome, characterized by massive impairment and irreversible memory, a tendency to fabulation to compensate for memory loss, mood disorders, etc.
When addiction sets in, the harmful consequences are numerous and affect all spheres of the drinker’s life. The state of health deteriorates both physically and psychologically. Relationships with relatives are disrupted and professional life can also be affected.
Alcohol dependence is particularly toxic on the nervous system and causes many disorders:
- encephalopathies, resulting from vitamin deficiencies
- cognitive disorders, such as dementia
- epileptic seizures
Content of a standard drink in pure alcohol
These equivalences are based on the standard alcohol levels contained in alcoholic beverages. Thus, the capacities of standard glasses are different depending on the degree of alcohol more or less highly of the alcoholic drink.