Effects Of Alcohol On Health

Ethanol abuse and its association with trauma represent a major public health issue. Forty percent of Americans will be involved in an ethanol-related motor vehicle collision in their lifetime, and over 40 percent of fatal motor vehicle accidents are associated with use of ethanol. 1 Those who drink are also at increased risk for accidents within the home and for injuries from assault.

Alcoholics have been estimated on average to have a life span 10 to 15 years shorter than that of moderate drinkers or nondrinkers. 4 Increased mortality rates result chiefly from heart and liver disease, cancer, and accidents. Although the occurrence of coronary artery disease is decreased among alcoholics, heavy ethanol use increases the likelihood of hypertension and can cause alcoholic cardiomyopathy. Ethanol is the most common cause of liver failure both in the United States and worldwide. Fatty liver is present in virtually all alcoholics, while 10 to 35 percent develop alcoholic hepatitis. Heavy ethanol use is also associated with increased risk of cancer of the esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, and breast.

Chronic toxicity from ethanol abuse may have serious health consequences for nearly every major organ system (T§b!e.,299-1).

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