Many people are aware that excessive drinking can be harmful to the liver and other vital organs; however, there is another, less obvious, body system that is vulnerable to the negative effects of alcohol: the immune system.
Because of alcohol’s effects on the immune system, people who drink to excess are at increased risk of contracting infectious diseases, may have more complications after surgery, and often take longer to recover from illness, compared with those who drink at lower levels. Disruptions in immune system function also contribute to organ damage associated with alcohol consumption.
An Alcohol Alert issued by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reviews the normal workings of the immune system and explores how alcohol interferes with these functions.
Alcohol’s Effects on the Immune SystemAlcohol consumption can alter the number, survival, and function of most immune cells.
Although these alterations alone may not be sufficient to adversely affect one’s...
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