Alcohol is a toxic substance, which affects nearly every part of your body. The toxic effect of alcohol causes a wide range of long-term illnesses. Of note, alcohol is classified as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization, because there has been sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of alcoholic beverages causes many cancers, including certain common cancers in Hong Kong, e.g. colorectal cancer, breast cancer and liver cancer. The more you drink, the higher the chance you are to get these illnesses.

Body Part or Function Health Conditions
Heart (Note) High blood pressure
Heart failure
Brain Stroke
Memory loss
Liver Liver cancer
Cirrhosis
Fatty liver
Breast Breast cancer
Mouth and Gut Oral cancer
Colorectal cancer
Acute and chronic gastritis
Gastric ulcers
Sex organ and function Impotence
Impaired sperm growth
Lowered fertility in women
Nutrition Malnutrition, e.g. vitamin B deficiency
Obesity
Mind Depression
Anxiety
Insomnia

Note

Some researches tell that drinking moderate amount may be associated to better heart health in certain populations (men over the age of 40, post-menopausal women and men living in Mediterranean countries), but evidence on such benefit remains controversial.

 

 

How alcohol increases risk of premature death?

Long-term excessive use of alcohol leads to alcohol dependence. This problem not only adversely affects your health, but also influences the important components of your life, e.g. your work, your family and your interpersonal relationship.

The following shows the increased risks of premature alcohol-related death due to different volumes of alcohol intake every day:

1 Drink
a day
2 Drink
a day
3-4 Drink
a day
1 Tuberculosis 0% 0% +194%
2 Epilepsy +19% +41% +81%
3 Pancreatitis +3% +12% +41%
4 Low birth weight 0% +29% +84%
5 Haemorrhagic stroke +10% +21% +39%
+22% +49% +101%
6 Hypertension +13% +28% +54%
0% +48% +161%
7 Liver cirrhosis +26% +59% +124%
+139% +242% +408%
Legends:
               
0%
               
+0-49%
               
+50-99%
               
+100% or above

Source: Communicating Alcohol-Related Health Risks: Canada's Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines

Note:
In Canada, 1 standard drink = 17.05 ml or 13.45 g of pure alcohol
For example: 1 standard drink = 5% Alc in around 350ml alcoholic drink

The following shows the increased risks of premature alcohol-related death due to different volumes of alcohol intake every day:

1 Drink
a day
2 Drink
a day
3-4 Drink
a day
1 Colon cancer +3% +5% +9%
2 Rectal cancer +5% +10% +18%
3 Liver cancer +10% +21% +38%
4 Oesophageal cancer +20% +43% +87%
5 Laryngeal cancer +21% +47% +95%
6 Oral and pharyngeal cancer +42% +96% +197%
7 Female breast cancer +13% +23% +52%
Legends:
               
0%
               
+0-49%
               
+50-99%
               
+100% or above

Source: Communicating Alcohol-Related Health Risks: Canada's Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines

Note:
In Canada, 1 standard drink = 17.05 ml or 13.45 g of pure alcohol
For example: 1 standard drink = 5% Alc in around 350ml alcoholic drink

So if you do not drink at all, do not start drinking.
If you choose to drink alcoholic beverages, limit your drink to minimise alcohol-related harm.

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