Before you start throwing back shots, it's good to ask, how does binge drinking affect your organs? Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks in one sitting for a woman, and five or more drinks for a man. The short-term effects of binge drinking on your organs usually heal over time, unless you drink so much that you succumb to alcohol poisoning, which occurs when your central nervous system is flooded by alcohol, which can cause you to go into a coma or die. However, people generally don't pause to ask themselves how binge drinking affects their organs over the years. The truth is that binge drinking can harm almost every organ in your body.
- The brain. Binge drinking is responsible for short-term memory loss. It can also cause depression or anxiety that lasts for several days after the binge. People who binge drink are more likely to suffer from dementia, strokes or neuropathy (permanent damage to nerves).
- The liver. Your liver purifies your body. Every time you binge drink, you make it work at insane levels, since it can only process one unit of alcohol an hour (12 oz. beer, shot, glass of wine). Repeated damage to the liver can result in alcoholic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis or liver failure. Cirrhosis is one of the top fifteen causes of death in the United States. If you binge drink enough for a long enough time, your liver will shut down and poisonous toxins will build up in your body.
- The heart. Alcohol weakens your heart. Binge drinking increases the risk of heart attacks, cardiomyopathy (where your heart basically atrophies) and abnormal heart rhythms.
- The genitals. Long-term binge drinking can result in sexual dysfunction, to the point where you are incapable of having sex.
- Cancers. Binge drinking multiplies your risk for cancers in almost every organ. Alcoholics are more prone to cancer of the mouth, liver, esophagus, colon and breasts.
So, that's how binge drinking affects your organs. Just remember to drink in moderation and chances are good that you won't have the unhappy effects of long-term binge drinking. Don't drink every day and don't binge drink every weekend—even if you're in college. Your body has to last a lifetime.