Fast Facts about Alcohol

Nutrition Health Review, Winter 2003 | Go to article overview

Fast Facts about Alcohol


Researchers at the University of Utah have noted an association between a genetic defect linked to colon cancer, called microsatellite instability, and long-time alcohol use. Persons in the study who drank an average of 7.5 ounces of wine, 35 ounces of beer, or 3.75 ounces of hard liquor per week over 20 years were 60 percent more likely to develop a tumor in the colon with the microsatellite instability defect than those without the defect.

The findings suggest that alcohol may damage deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and that lifestyle factors can cause genetic changes.

(Source: International Journal of Cancer 2001;93:601-607.)

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University propose that the fatty livers in some obese people may be caused by alcohol generated within the intestine.

The study suggests that microorganisms that normally live in the intestine produce ethyl alcohol, which flows to the liver. Obesity is thought to slow intestinal motility and to enable bacterial growth, which increases production of alcohol and other noxious factors.

(Source: Gastroenterology, November 2000.)

People experience coordination impairment and reduced alertness with blood alcohol levels of 0.05. A 120-pound woman reaches 0.04 after drinking one 12-ounce beer. A 160-pound man reaches 0.05 after two beers.

(Source: University of Texas-Southwestern Medical Center, December 2003.)

Taking an aspirin or other pain medication to prevent a hangover may actually make symptoms worse. Some evidence claims that aspirin interferes with the enzyme that breaks down alcohol, which may boost blood alcohol content and intensify alcohol's effects.

(Source: University of California-Berkeley Wellness Letter, May 2003.)

People older than age 65 who drank more than 15 drinks a week have a greater risk for brain shrinkage. A British survey states that men under the age of 35 and women younger than 55 who are light drinkers have a higher risk of death than those who do not drink. Alcohol-related deaths are thought to be the reason.

(Source: Journal of the American Heart Association, September 2001.)

People taking diuretics and some antibiotics, as well as individuals who drink heavily, are at an increased risk of magnesium deficiencies.

(Source: University of California-Berkeley. …

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