Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Alcoholism: More effects than you think

Have you ever heard the phrase, “You’re not an alcoholic until you graduate”? That sums up the way a lot of college students think about drinking.

When people are in college, many think they are immune to the damage that alcohol, and lots of other drugs and risky behaviors can cause their bodies. Students blame the freshman 15 on the dining halls and being away from the meals that Mom made.

They completely ignore the 15 calorie-loaded alcoholic beverages they’re having every weekend.

I’ve heard girls talk about calorie-free alcoholic drinks that they drink to keep from gaining weight. There is no such thing. If a drink has alcohol, it has calories.

Most people don’t realize how many calories alcohol actually has. Fat, the most calorie-dense nutrient, has nine calories per gram while carbohydrates have four calories per gram.

Alcohol follows pretty closely behind fat with seven calories per gram. One shot of whiskey has almost 150 calories and that’s before it’s mixed with Coke. A five-ounce glass of wine has about 130 calories. The calories in alcoholic beverages add up very quickly, and people tend to lose count of the calories, as well as the number of drinks they have had, as they drink more.

Drinking too much alcohol causes more damage to your body than just your waistline.

Heavy alcohol intake will lead to liver damage. As the liver is damaged fat begins to build up on it causing fatty liver or hepatic steatosis. Fatty liver is reversible if the heavy drinking stops. If heavy drinking continues, however, liver cells will begin to die and scar tissue will build up on the liver. Buildup of scar tissue on the liver causes irreversible hardening, or cirrhosis, of the liver.

One alcoholic drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men may decrease your chances of developing cardiovascular disease.

That doesn’t mean that if you don’t drink all week and have seven drinks on Friday night you can still decrease your chances of getting heart disease. It doesn’t work that way.

Exceeding the recommended number of drinks even by just one may cause damage to your liver. It also increases your chances of developing almost every type of cancer.

One standard drink can be a 12-ounce beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits or liquor. Having more than one a day for women and two drinks a day for men is considered heavy drinking.

The recommended number of drinks per day for mean and women is different because of the average woman weighs less than the average man. Another reason is that women produce less of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase, the enzyme responsible for breaking down alcohol in your body, than men do. Because women produce less of this enzyme than men, women cannot break down alcohol as quickly as men. Alcohol builds up in women’s bodies and affects them more strongly.

The average college student drinks about 1.5 drinks a week. Students who engage in binge drinking – drinking four or more drinks in a row for women or five drinks in a row for men – consume about 14.5 drinks a week.

Being a college student won’t protect you from the damage that excessive alcohol intake causes your body.

JoLee Seaborn is a senior majoring in nutrition. Her nutrition column runs on Wednesday.

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