Consider yourself a savvy alcohol consumer? Think you know about alcohol, and its effects on your body and mind? Think again: many of us underestimate the effect of alcohol on our health, thanks to myths, overstatements, and poorly quoted research.
If you consume alcohol or want to know more about alcohol and its impact on your health, here are five important things to know.
1. Alcohol temporarily reduces metabolism
Regardless of how much you consume, the body identifies alcohol as a toxin and temporarily reduces the number of Calories it uses from stored fat in an effort to focus on removing alcohol from the bloodstream. As blood alcohol concentration increases, metabolism decreases, and may stay in a reduced state for hours after blood alcohol concentration has returned to normal.
2. Alcohol is a Group 1 carcinogen
Alcohol is perhaps the most commonly consumed Group 1 Carcinogen. Group 1 Carcinogens (classified by the World Health Organizations International Agency for Research on Cancer/IARC) are those that have been shown to cause cancer in humans.
Consuming alcohol increases your risk for cancers of the colon, breast, mouth, throat, liver, and rectum.
3. You can’t “sweat out” alcohol
After a night of hard drinking, many hungover exercisers will hit the gym in an effort to “sweat out” any alcohol remaining in their bloodstream. While exercise may help reduce the total Caloric impact of the alcohol, alcohol metabolism cannot be increased through exercise.
4. Alcohol is higher Calorie than you may have realized
Alcohol is the second most Caloric substance consumed by humans. Carbohydrate and fat both contain 4 Calories per gram, while fat contains 9 Calories per gram. Meanwhile, alcohol contains 7 Calories per gram.
5. Wine may not actually be good for your heart
Although there is an association between moderate alcohol consumption and a reduced risk for heart disease, association does not imply causation: in other words, researchers still aren’t clear whether other habits consumers of moderate amounts of alcohol may bely the association between alcohol and heart health.
Accordingly, the American Heart Association cautions that “Drinking more alcohol increases such dangers as high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, and breast cancer. Given these and other risks, the American Heart Association cautions people not to start drinking if they do not already drink alcohol.”