How alcohol damages the body’s hormonal system

The body’s hormones work together in a finely coordinated and complex system to maintain our health and function. Alcohol can interfere with the functioning of the hormonal system and cause serious medical consequences.

The effect of alcohol on hormones

Hormones act as chemical messengers to control and coordinate the functions of body tissues and organs. When the hormonal system is working normally, it will release the correct amount of hormones at the correct time, and the body tissues will accurately respond to this information.

Drinking alcohol can impair the function of hormone-releasing glands and the function of hormone-targeted tissues, leading to medical problems. When alcohol impairs the ability of the hormonal system to work properly, it destroys these main bodily functions:

  • Growth and development
  • Maintain blood pressure and bone mass
  • Energy production, utilization and storage
  • reproduction

Research on laboratory animals also shows that the effect of alcohol on hormonal pathways can affect alcohol-seeking behavior. Scientists believe that the behavior of seeking alcohol is partly regulated by the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis.

By interfering with the hormone system, alcohol can affect blood sugar levels, impair reproductive function, interfere with calcium metabolism and bone structure, affect hunger and digestion, and increase the risk of osteoporosis.

Blood sugar level

The main source of energy for all body tissues is sugar and glucose. The body obtains glucose from food, synthesis in the body, and the breakdown of glycogen stored in the liver.

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The human blood sugar level is controlled by insulin and glucagon (hormones secreted by the pancreas). They work together to maintain a constant concentration of glucose in the blood. Insulin lowers glucose levels, while glucagon raises it.

Other hormones from the adrenal glands and pituitary gland support the function of glucagon to ensure that the body’s glucose level does not drop enough to cause fainting, fainting, or even brain damage.

Alcohol interferes with all three sources of glucose and interferes with the hormones that regulate glucose levels. Drinking alcohol can affect the body’s glucose levels in many ways. As we all know, alcohol can:

  • Increase insulin secretion, causing temporary hypoglycemia.
  • Inhibits the production of glucose during alcohol metabolism.
  • Large amounts of consumption can impair the hormone’s response to hypoglycemia.
  • Improper diet when drinking alcohol, limit glucose intake.

Long-term heavy drinking will increase the body’s glucose levels. A review report published in 2015 stated that long-term heavy drinking can cause glucose intolerance in healthy people. It can also:of

  • Change the effectiveness of diabetes medications.
  • Lead to hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia in alcoholics.
  • Increase the secretion of glucagon and other hormones that raise blood sugar levels.
  • Alcoholics with diabetes have a lower survival rate.
  • Decrease the body’s response to insulin.
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Reproductive function

There are many hormones in the body that regulate the reproductive system. The two main hormones—androgens (testosterone) and estrogen (estradiol)—are synthesized in the testes and ovaries. These hormones affect various reproductive functions. Among men, they are responsible for:

  • All aspects of male sexuality
  • Sexual maturity
  • Sperm development and fertility

In women, hormones have multiple functions, including:

  • Breast development
  • Development of secondary sex characteristics
  • Body hair distribution
  • Help maintain pregnancy
  • Regulate the menstrual cycle

Long-term drinking can interfere with all these reproductive functions. Alcohol can impair the normal function of the testicles and ovaries, leading to hormonal deficiencies, sexual dysfunction and infertility.

Some of the problems caused by drinking alcohol can interfere with the male hormonal system include:

  • Change normal sperm structure
  • Impaired sexual and reproductive function
  • Male breast enlargement
  • Lower testosterone levels

Although many reproductive problems have been found in women who drink heavily, some problems have also been found in women who are considered social drinkers. In premenopausal women, long-term heavy drinking can cause reproductive disorders, including:

  • Menopause
  • Early menopause
  • Irregular menstrual cycle
  • Menstrual cycle without ovulation
  • Risk of spontaneous abortion

Calcium metabolism and bone structure

Hormones play an important role in maintaining calcium levels in the body. This is not only necessary for strong bones and teeth, but also for communication between and within the body’s cells. Several hormones—parathyroid hormone (PTH), vitamin D-derived hormone, and calcitonin—are used to regulate calcium absorption, excretion, and distribution between bones and body fluids.

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Acute alcohol consumption can interfere with these hormones in a variety of ways, thereby interfering with calcium and bone metabolism, including:

  • Adversely affect bone metabolism through nutritional deficiencies
  • Change reproductive hormones and affect bone metabolism
  • Cause PTH deficiency and increase calcium excretion
  • Interfere with vitamin D metabolism
  • Inhibit the activity of osteoblasts
  • Limit the full absorption of dietary calcium

All these problems can lead to calcium deficiency, which can lead to bone diseases such as osteoporosis and bone loss, which increases the risk of fractures.

Alcohol-related bone health problems pose a serious threat to the health of alcoholics, because the risk of falling is greater, and therefore fractures or broken bones.

The good news is that studies have found that when alcoholics stop drinking, the effects of alcohol on bone metabolism and bone-forming cells are at least partially reversible.

Cortisol level

Researchers have found that drinking alcohol also increases the body’s production of cortisol, not only when drinking, but also after drinkers give up.In the short term, cortisol can increase blood pressure, increase alertness and concentration, but in the long term, cortisol can adversely affect body functions such as bone growth, digestion, reproduction, and wound repair.