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Old 02-10-2019, 07:58 PM
Location: Olympus Mons, Mars
5,277 posts, read 8,280,963 times
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Here is the snapshot, started drinking at age 32, very infrequent drinker before that. Choice of beverage is exclusively beer. Current age is turning 45 next month. Drinking frequency has ebbed and flowed during my 12+ years of drinking, ranging from occasional binging (6-8 beers) but I would say 80% of the time it's been moderate 2-3 beers. In addition 80% of the days in the 12 year period i've at least consumed 2 beers with 20% of that period dry.

Other patterns - exercise activity is above average, diet is hit or miss - sometimes healthy sometimes not, no current health issues but some numbers are getting to the borderline like LDL and Blood pressure.

Question - given the above drinking pattern how much health damage have I done with regard to cancer risk? If I further reduce my drinking to just social occasions and vacations which I take perhaps 3-4 times a year will that reduce my risk drastically? I read a report that said it will take 35 years to reduce cancer risk from previous alcohol exposure - surely that can't be right???

I'm just wondering because I know people who drink way more than me. My good friend's girlfriend is 48 years old and she is drinking 1-2 bottles of wine every other day without a care in the world. Also, I see a lot of folks drinking wine specifically to huge excesses, for some reason people drinking lots of wine seems more acceptable than scotch or beer when it's in effect the same consumption of ethanol.
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Old 02-11-2019, 12:48 AM
Location: Bend OR
4 posts, read 2,006 times
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You can get a blood test to check your liver enzymes to see if they’re elevated. Alcohol-induced fatty liver would be a concern at your drinking level, although everyone’s different and it’s hard to have a one-size-fits-all approach, genetics play a role too. I’ve read more than once that there’s been a surge of liver problems with people who “only” drink a little every day but for many years. It eventually catches up with you. It's good that you're at least having some days off drinking. Also, the fact you didn't drink much when you were young is to your advantage. A lot of liver problems start from youthful binge drinking.

Fatty liver can be reversed if caught in time. Liver problems don’t always have symptoms until late stages, jaundice would indicate a serious issue. Ascites is another indicator of liver problems, fluid builds in the abdomen causing it to swell and become hard, and is relieved by reducing or quitting drinking. Numerous studies have shown that drinking black coffee has a protective effect on the liver, the more the better.

Another issue would be pancreatitis. Ever have any abdominal pain on the left side around your stomach? Or have your “bathroom habits” changed noticeably? Stool changes can be an indication of pancreas problems. You can look all this up on the ‘net for yourself. But getting that blood test and talking to your doctor might be a good idea, at least give you some peace of mind. I'd get the test after a normal week of drinking and see what it tells you. Diet and exercise can offset some of the damage as well. And yes, alcohol is also a known antagonist of blood pressure.

I’d say it’d be a good idea to cut down. Alcohol is a Grade 1 carcinogen, according to the World Health Org. There really is no safe amount. Beer is no safer than wine or liquor, it’s all alcohol. Current recommendations for men are two standard (5% beer) drinks a day, no more than 14 per week. But from what I’ve read, those levels are being reconsidered since some of the studies had indirect ties to the liquor industry. That "35 year" stat you mentioned is bogus. The minute you quit drinking, or at least cut down drastically, your health will improve, as long as it's not past the point of no return. Probably want to eliminate the binge drinking too. Good luck.

Last edited by backcountryjack; 02-11-2019 at 01:03 AM..
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Old 02-11-2019, 01:12 AM
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Excessive drinking also damages the heart.
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Old 02-11-2019, 06:25 AM
Location: The Driftless Area, WI
2,370 posts, read 826,533 times
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The effect of ethanol ingestion on a person is highly individualized. Your consumption my or may not be causing any damage to you.

Ethanol can affect the liver, nervous system, muscles (including heart), bone marrow, etc etc....Some of those effects are from direct toxicity. Many of the problems seen in hard-core alkies are also due to malnutrition-- they rely on ethanol for their calories and don't eat well.

In your case, even if the ethanol hasn't produced any toxic effects, it's just a lot of extra calories you don't need. ...BTW- "fatty liver" is just that-- a lot of fat stored in the liver. It's not a disease in and of itself. It can give rise to nonspecific elevated liver tests on the automated blood screens and prompt further testing to see if there is also hepatitis, cirrhosis, etc involved.

"Everything in moderation." Ethanol is ethanol-- there's really no difference in beer, wine, moonshine, whiskey etc. It's quantity, not quality, that counts.
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Old 02-11-2019, 09:36 PM
Location: Mostly in my head
19,733 posts, read 54,650,218 times
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Worry more about your brain!
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Old 02-12-2019, 09:29 AM
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I want to add that when one consumes alcohol you MUST drink a lot of water to compensate and help to rehydrate and flush it out! I drink two glasses of wine a day (my preferred alcohol beverage) and always drink a LOT of water. I am 69 y.o. been drinking this amount about 25 years now. My liver enzymes are perfect. I do mostly watch my diet and exercise daily. I am a tall woman with some muscle tone, so I can process the amount better than a much smaller woman who has no muscle tone. It is all a very individual thing.
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Old 02-12-2019, 09:59 AM
Location: Tennessee
22,141 posts, read 16,319,792 times
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Personally, I would have your enzymes checked, just to be certain.

I've 32 and have been a pretty heavy drinker for a decade. I had my enzymes checked back last fall, and they were normal. I also drink only beer.

IMO, the biggest problem with beer, unless you're going to complete excess frequently or are pounding high ABV stuff, are the extra calories, weight gain, and everything that stems from that, probably more than the alcohol itself. If I drink at night, I get very hungry, and then I'll eat right before bed, so I'm not only getting the calories from the beer, but also from eating a fourth meal.
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Old 02-12-2019, 10:12 AM
Location: Southwest Washington State
20,298 posts, read 13,336,437 times
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I just want to mention that if you have borderline high numbers, stopping the beer consumption would probably have a positive effect.

Another factor in your cancer risk would be if close family members have had cancer.
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Old 02-12-2019, 03:41 PM
5,195 posts, read 6,422,011 times
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The clinical definition of heavy drinking is more than 14 drinks a week for a man. Per the CDC, that puts you at higher risks for disease, including cancer. At 45 you may not see any ill effects yet, but that doesn't mean it may not happen eventually.
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Old 02-12-2019, 07:36 PM
Location: South Florida
670 posts, read 1,066,112 times
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My husband had Hepatitis C for almost 40 years before he was diagnosed. At no time were his liver enzymes out of range. He had regular checkups and was also seen specifically for complaints of fatigue and gastric issues where they checked his liver enzymes. When he was diagnosed, I went back through medical records that we had copies of dating back about ten years. I was sure there must be a something that a doctor had missed, but there wasn't anything out of range. There were a few that fell in the upper or lower end and some trends that maybe in hindsight meant something, but there were no red flags.

Once he was diagnosed, they did a liver biopsy and a scan and determined he had Fibrosis, stage 2/stage 3. Fibrosis is scarring. It is liver damage that can progress to cirrhosis. So he clearly had liver damage, but liver enzymes within normal limits. Based on that experience, I would not rely on a liver panel to determine if I was damaging my liver with excessive drinking. Apparently your liver can be pretty sick before it starts to show up in your bloodwork.
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