Study: People who begin drinking alcohol in their late teens are more likely to suffer liver disease as adults

People who started drinking excessive amounts of alcohol in their late teens are more likely to suffer from a severe liver disease later in life, according to a study published in the Journal of Hepatology.

The study, which was conducted by researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, analyzed the effects of consuming alcohol early in life on the development of severe liver disease later in life.

In the study, the researchers evaluated data on alcohol consumption of more than 40,000 men in their late teens, particularly those between 18 and 20 years old. These men were enlisted for military service in Sweden between 1969 and 1970.

After almost 40 years of follow-up, the researchers found that alcohol intake was a key risk factor for developing a severe liver disease. They discovered that 383 men developed a severe liver disease.

They also found that the risk of developing severe liver disease was dose-dependent. Men who consumed more than 30 grams of alcohol per day, which is the current guidelines for safe alcohol intake in men, were at a higher risk. Moreover, the increased risk was most evident in men consuming two drinks per day or more. Because of this, the researchers also suggested that current recommendations for safe alcohol intake in men might need to be revised. (Related: Challenge studies that encourage moderate alcohol consumption for health and longevity.)

Based on the findings of the study, the researchers concluded that people who consumed excessive amounts of alcohol during their late adolescence are more likely to develop a severe liver disease later in life.

Other health effects of alcohol

Although having an occasional glass of wine with dinner is not exactly harmful, anything in excess is harmful. Drinking too much wine, beer, or spirits can harm the body. Here are the harmful effects of alcohol on the body:

  • Digestive and endocrine systems: High intake of alcohol can result in abnormal activation of digestive enzymes produced by the pancreas. Accumulation of these enzymes can result in pancreatitis, the inflammation of the pancreas.
  • Liver health: The liver is responsible for breaking down and removing toxic substances in the body, such as alcohol, and this can be interrupted by drinking excessive amounts of alcohol for a long time. In turn, this can result in liver disease, which also leads to toxin and waste buildup in the body. Women are particularly at a greater risk of suffering from alcoholic liver disease because their bodies tend to absorb more alcohol and need a longer time to process it.
  • Blood sugar levels: Heavy alcohol drinking also impairs the pancreas, which helps regulate insulin use and response to glucose. Having a damaged pancreas can result in low blood sugar or high blood sugar.
  • Central nervous system: Alcohol also affects the central nervous system. It can interrupt communication between the brain and body, making coordination and balancing more difficult. It can also affect memory, thinking, and emotions. Alcohol can also affect the brain in the long run, possibly causing permanent brain damage.
  • Circulatory system: Although drinking a glass of wine once in a while is said to be good for the heart, chronic alcohol consumption can increase the risk of circulatory system problems. These include high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, difficulty pumping blood through the body, stroke, heart attack, heart disease, and heart failure.

These are only a few of the side effects of alcohol consumption, especially in excessive amounts and for a long time.

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