Alcohol’s hidden harms – effects on our health

What may seem like just a drink or two most evenings can do a lot of harm to your body, inside and out.

You might notice that you’re building up a bit of a spare tyre, if you drink alcohol regularly. That’s because there can be a lot of calories in alcohol. Or perhaps your mood can be a bit low in the mornings. Maybe your skin’s not as clear as it was. And we all know how drinking too much can lead to decreased sexual performance, especially for men.

Health harms of alcohol

As well as the things you notice on the outside, there can be some serious stuff happening on the inside. Regularly drinking over the lower risk guidelines increases the chances of suffering more serious health harms such as:

  • Cancer of the throat, oesophagus or larynx. Regularly drinking two large glasses of wine (ABV 13%) or two pints of strong lager (ABV 5.2%) a day could make you three times as likely to get mouth cancer.
  • Breast cancer in women. Regularly drinking just above the guidelines increases the risk of getting breast cancer by around 20%
  • A stroke
  • Heart disease or an irregular heartbeat, which can lead to a heart attack
  • High blood pressure
  • Liver disease such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. If you regularly drink just above the lower-risk guidelines, the risk of liver cirrhosis increases 1.7 times
  • Pancreatitis
  • Reduced fertility

People who regularly drink just above the lower-risk guidelines increase their risk of ill-health significantly.

The more you drink, and the more often, the greater the risk to your health. And for people with a medical condition (such as diabetes or high blood pressure) or are suffering from depression or anxiety, alcohol often makes life worse.
Read more about the effects of alcohol on existing health conditions

Cut down on alcohol and feel the benefits

The good news is that you can reduce the risk to your health by cutting down the amount of alcohol you drink. Drinking less now can make a big difference to your health later on. And you might notice some benefits even more quickly, like feeling better in the mornings and having more energy. Sound good? That’s just for starters!
Try our easy tips and advice for ways to cut down on alcohol

Existing health conditions

Drinking alcohol can put your health at risk if you have a medical condition
Read more about the effects of alcohol

Choose less booze

Want to make some changes?

How are your eating, drinking and activity habits? We can help you make some healthy changes

Join Change4Life - free!

Free tracker app

Our new free smartphone app can help you track your drinks at home and on the town

Download

Smart swap is a registered trade mark of the Licensor and is used under licence