Alcohol dependence is underestimated

Health threats underestimated

The legal drug drives many people into addiction or intoxication with potentially serious to fatal consequences. "In addition, alcohol is a strong cell poison." Excessive consumption could cause serious damage to the entire organism. "An acute overdose primarily has a disruptive effect on the cardiovascular system, which can manifest itself in the form of life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias or derailments in blood pressure," said Professor Dr. Helmut Seitz, Medical Director of the Salem Hospital in Heidelberg and head of the Center for Alcohol Research there, at the event.


Liver changes were among the most well-known consequences of chronic overdose. "40 to 50 percent of all liver diseases in Germany are alcohol-related." The connection with liver cirrhosis, ie the death of cells in the end-stage of various liver diseases, which claim about 20,000 human lives in Germany every year, is particularly well documented. According to studies, the risk of developing liver cirrhosis increases linearly with the level of daily alcohol consumption. "


In addition, epidemiological evaluations showed that 3.6 percent of annual cancer cases worldwide can be traced back to chronic alcohol consumption. "But this problem is neglected in the public perception." Alcohol is the most important risk factor for the development of tumors in the oropharynx and the esophagus, along with smoking. In addition, it increases the risk of liver cancer. All three types of cancer occur relatively rarely in Germany. "But even with two particularly common ones, namely breast cancer and colon cancer, there is a correlation with the level of daily alcohol consumption, albeit less pronounced."


As evidence, Seitz cited an evaluation of 53 clinical studies that appeared in the British Journal of Cancer in 2002 (87 (11): 1234-45). According to this, every additional drink per day (in the study corresponding to 10 g of pure alcohol) increases the risk of breast cancer in long-term consumers by 7.1 percent. However, according to Seitz, alcohol only appears to trigger tumors and other diseases above a certain dose and, in small amounts, rather to prevent heart attacks and strokes, even if only in a few people. "In my opinion, alcohol is never really healthy." The threshold values ​​for harmful effects differ from organ to organ. "So in order to protect the entire organism, one should adhere to the threshold dose for the most sensitive organ."


Note threshold dose


"From these considerations and the assessment of the relevant studies, the DHS derived its recommendations for low-risk alcohol consumption a few years ago," said Gaßmann. It reads: women should not drink more than 12 g of pure alcohol per day. This corresponds to about 0.3 liters of beer, 0.15 liters of wine / sparkling wine or 0.4 cl of a spirit (liqueur, grain or similar). In men, the limit is twice as high. However, both sexes should take a break from alcohol two days a week. In addition, the recommendation only applies to healthy adults. People at a genetic risk for alcohol-related diseases (for example, cases of breast or colon cancer in the family) should only drink alcohol occasionally. The same is true for patients with diseases that may be made worse by alcohol, such as liver disease, colon polyps, esophagitis, cardiac arrhythmias, high blood pressure, gout, and neurological and psychiatric problems. "We do not want to spoil anyone's fun with our recommendations, but rather to help avoid highly stressful diseases," emphasized Gaßmann. In addition, one can have fun with little or no alcohol - only this view is not widespread enough in Germany./