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Alcohol and human health
What impact does alcohol have on the body? From a ‘hangover’ to cirrhosis this unit...
What impact does alcohol have on the body? From a ‘hangover’ to cirrhosis this unit looks at the harmful effects of alcohol both in the short and long term.
By the end of this unit you should be able to:
- describe the effects that ethanol in the blood has on the body – specifically the effect on drivers’ judgement at blood-alcohol concentrations near the legal limit for driving and the serious effects of blood-alcohol concentrations in excess of 200 mg/100 ml;
- describe the short-term effects experienced following excessive alcohol consumption. Comment on the relationship between these complex effects and ethanol metabolites or congeners, the various ‘remedies’ adopted, and that the physiological basis for these economically important short-term harmful effects remains poorly understood;
- discuss some of the long-term harmful effects of drinking excessive alcohol with specific reference to the three stages of alcoholic liver disease and central and peripheral nervous system damage;
- discuss fetal alcohol syndrome, describing the main effects on the fetus and some of the factors that can make research into this disorder more complex.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 How alcohol causes short- and long-term harmful effects
- 1.1 The biological effects of ethanol
- 1.2 Hangovers
- 1.3 Long-term problems from chronic alcoholism
- 1.4 Nervous-system damage
- 1.5 Fetal alcohol syndrome
- 1.6 Treatment
- Revision questions
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Alcohol and human health
This unit describes some of the effects of drinking alcohol. It looks at alcohol's journey through the body and its effect on the liver. It also discusses some possible beneficial effects. This is an important health issue and should be of wide interest.
This unit is an adapted extract from the Open University course
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Wednesday, 13th July 2011
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements section.
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