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Alcohol impacts your health in the long term

News & Events / Alcohol impacts your health in the long term

How much do you know about alcohol and health?

We all know about the short-term harms of alcohol. Like road accidents, injuries, violence and alcohol poisoning.

But lots of people are unaware of the serious long-term impacts that alcohol has on our health. Drinking increases the risk of many health conditions.

When it comes to being at the top of our game, alcohol can impact that too. Muscle weakness and brittle bones are both risks of drinking lots over time.

Alcohol can increase the risk of cancer

Alcohol is a Group 1 carcinogen (known for causing cancer in humans).

Your risk increases even from low levels of drinking (one standard drink per day). As well as higher levels (up to five standard drinks per day).

  • For women, moderate alcohol consumption (1-2 drinks daily) increases your risk of breast cancer by 30-50%.
  • For men, even drinking small amounts still increases your risk for prostate cancer by 8-23%.

Alcohol increases the risk of many other diseases

In Australia, alcohol causes lots of common diseases.

  • People who have heavy episodes of drinking regularly (more than 4 standard drinks at once) have a 45% increased risk of developing coronary heart disease.
  • Drinking more than two drinks per day is associated with risk of stroke. More than four drinks per day is associated with an increased risk of haemorrhagic stroke (when a blood vessel in the brain leaks or ruptures).
  • Drinking 1 to 2 standard drinks daily gives you a 1.34 times higher risk of developing osteoporosis (weak and brittle bones).

Chronic health conditions caused by alcohol

Certain health conditions can result from drinking. The risk increases the more you drink over a long period of time. Areas of the body affected include:

  • the liver
  • the pancreas
  • digestive system (gastrointestinal diseases)
  • muscle weakness occurs in 40-60% of people who experience a long-term dependence on alcohol.

Is red wine good for the heart? Myth-busting

You might have heard that “red wine is good for the heart”. Some research says that small amounts of alcohol can provide some protection against heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

However, much of this research is not accurate and has been disproven by other studies since.

What are Australia’s drinking guidelines?

If you do decide to drink, keep it to no more than 10 standard drinks per week. Your max should be 4 standard drinks on any one day.

But remember, the current Australian guidelines state that no amount of alcohol consumption is safe.

Drinking won’t automatically cause you to have a disease. But the more alcohol you consume, the higher the risk. Be extra careful if you have underlying health conditions or a family history of illness.

For more info and references, visit the Alcohol and Drug Foundation website.

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