Excessive Alcohol Intake -The Health Risks

The Government recommends you do not exceed four units of alcohol a day if you are a man and three units if you are a woman. If you exceed this amount on a regular basis you expose your body to a whole host of health risks, some involving disease and others involving an increased risk of injury and other ‘misadventures’. excessive alcohol intakeThis could include an enhanced risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, falling over, road traffic accidents and an increased vulnerability to sexual and physical assault.

Over the last ten years an average of 30,000 lives were lost yearly in the United Kingdom due to the effects of alcohol. The scale of the problem has prompted the team at Help4Addiction to write this handy guide on excessive alcohol intake. It is hoped you will gain a better appreciation of the potential health risks you could be exposing your body to by continuing to consume more than the recommended units of alcohol each day.

Excessive Alcohol Intake – Men and Women

Due to a greater volume of blood and a lower fat index in men’s bodies, men process alcohol more efficiently than women. This means men end up with a lower percentage of alcohol in their blood in comparison to women when the same quantity of alcohol is consumed. Additionally the below health problems associated with excessive alcohol intake manifest themselves more rapidly for women than for men.

However despite this underlying biological advantage men have over women when it comes to the negative effects of alcohol, more men do in fact end up in hospital or in car accidents as a result of their excessive drinking.

Alcohol and Domestic violence

Excess alcohol consumption can take its toll on your family life. Alcohol is a major contributor to incidents involving domestic violence and excessive intake of alcohol can lead to the breakup of entire families and mean children end up in care. Indeed alcohol abuse can lead to harsh psychology problems as well as physical health problems when it comes to your family life.

Alcohol and the Skeletal system

The over 35’s are at an increased risk of developing a condition known as ‘gout’ when they choose to over-consume alcohol. This is an arthritic disease characterised by joint swelling. This is a condition which can be very painful indeed.

Alcohol and Strokes

Excessive consumption of alcohol has been shown to increase the risks of stroke, especially amongst the over 50’s who drink in excess of five units per day for a prolonged period of time.

Alcohol and Cancer

Study after study strengthens the evidence that alcohol abuse leads to cancer. Evidence is strongest when it comes to the link between alcohol abuse and cancer of the oesophagus, mouth, pharynx and larynx, especially amongst men. Furthermore liver cirrhosis (scaring of the liver) can lead to liver carcinoma (liver cancer). Likewise pancreatitis can lead to pancreatic cancer.

Studies have also linked excessive drinking to breast cancer, particularly if a women drinks in excess of two alcoholic drinks each day.

Sexual and Reproduction Problems

Alcohol not only decreases essential male hormones such as testosterone, it also has a toxic effect on the testes. If you are a man this means your ability to produce sperm is impaired. Damaged sperm has a hard time reaching the ovaries, so if you’ve been planning on conceiving a child it really makes sense to discontinue your consumption of alcohol.

Alcohol consumption additionally slows down the body’s nervous system. If you are a man your excessive consumption of alcohol beyond the recommended number of daily units will mean you will prohibit your ability to establish and maintain an erection. This has in some circles rather affectionately been termed ‘brewer’s droop’.

Alcohol and Weight Control

Whether you’re a man or a woman it’s no secret that alcohol will make your body put on weight. A single 250ml glass of wine is the equivalent to a small slice of chocolate cake containing 200 calories. And that nice pint of beer will eat into 200 calories of your daily recommended calorie budget.

Additionally alcohol impairs your body’s ability to burn fat. Alcohol is a toxin and as such the body will prioritise its breakdown to the expense of other metabolic activities such as fat burning. Excessive alcohol intake can lead to excessive fat accumulating around the stomach and chest areas, these have been termed ‘man boobs’ and ‘beer belly’ respectively.

Alcohol related Liver Disease

The liver is the body’s chief agent when it comes to clearing out harmful toxins from your system. Alcohol is no exception and it is within the liver that the alcohol toxin is processed. It is commonly said that the liver breaks down one unit of alcohol in around 60 minutes. Excessive intake of alcohol does indeed damage the liver by forcing the liver to go into overdrive. Alcohol abuse can lead to various liver impairments such as ‘fatty liver disease’ (steatosis), ‘cirrhosis’, also known as ‘scaring of the liver’ and hepatitis. If you continue to drink under such circumstances you could end up with liver failure. Cirrhosis in particular is irreversible and such liver failure will result in death and can only be cured through a liver transplant.

Alcohol and the Pancreas

The pancreas functions by providing essential enzymes utilised during the digestion process. These enzymes breakdown harmful fatty acids and insulin. When the pancreas is damaged so is the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar. Excessive alcohol intake can lead to a condition known aschronic pancreatitis. This manifests itself by inflaming the pancreas. When the pancreas is inflamed for a sufficient duration the pancreas will be permanently damaged. This results in severe stomach pains and diabetes.

Drink Driving Risk

The number of alcohol related road deaths has fallen dramatically since the 1970s in the United Kingdom but over the last ten years on average 400 lives have been lost each year due to road accidents which can be directly attributed to alcohol consumption.

drink driving data

Above Department for Transport statistics survey reveals percentage of men and women who admit driving when over the limit of alcohol permitted by law. 9% of men admitted to drinking whilst over the limit. Only 4% of women felt they have driven whilst over the drink driving limit.


We hope you have enjoyed our guide on the health risks which excessive alcohol intake can cause.

If you are worried about your own excessive consumption of alcohol why not call the team today on 0330 088 9518.


We are here 24/7 to help get you and your recovery on the right path.

Our promise to you

thumbOur advice will always be led by your needs and is free, confidential and impartial.
thumbOur experienced professionals will treat you with compassion and understanding.
thumbOur purpose is to provide you with all the information needed to make informed decisions.