Injuries. Drinking too much increases your chances of being injured or even killed. Alcohol is a factor, for example, in about 60 percent of fatal burn injuries, drownings, and homicides; 50 percent of severe trauma injuries and sexual assaults; and 40 percent of fatal motor vehicle crashes, suicides, and fatal falls.
Health problems. Drinking can cause a number of health problems. Studies have shown that one drink a day increases the risk of breast cancer in women. Research has also shown that people who drink excessively have a greater risk of liver disease, heart disease, depression, stroke, and stomach bleeding, as well as cancers of the oral cavity, esophagus, larynx, pharynx, liver, colon, and rectum. They may also have problems managing conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, pain, and sleep disorders. And they may increase their chances for contracting sexually transmitted infections from unsafe sex.
Birth defects. Drinking during pregnancy can cause brain damage and other serious problems in the baby. Because it is not yet known whether any amount of alcohol is safe for a developing baby, women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should not drink.
Alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use disorder is a medical condition that doctors can diagnose when a patient’s drinking causes distress or harm. In the United States, about 17 million people have alcohol use disorder.
Beyond these physical and mental health risks, frequent heavy drinking also is linked with personal problems, including losing a driver’s license and having relationship troubles.
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