Alcohol Effects on the Colon

Alcohol affects many parts of the body, especially for those who have had chronic use. The consequences of use and abuse on the colon are not always clear, however. There is even some evidence that suggests the negative effects depend on the type of alcohol and that wine in moderation may have positive benefits on colon health.

Overview of Alcohol Effects on body

Alcohol is classified as a depressant, meaning it slows the nervous system. It often induces sleep and can relieve pain. Unfortunately, in large doses it actually depresses the central nervous system and can even cause death. Immediate effects of alcohol misuse are distorted reality, loss of awareness of pain, loss of impulse control and loss of control over motor skills. Long-term effects include addiction, brain damage, liver disease and social and economic difficulties.


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There are considerable negative issues that arise in the abuse of alcohol. There also is substantial evidence to suggest that wine--in moderation and used regularly--has positive effects. It can decrease the chance of heart disease and even colon cancer. In a study presented in 2000 at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology, those who drank wine moderately (1 to 2 glasses most days) had less chance of developing colon or rectal cancer than those who did not drink at all.

Negative Effects

In the same study, those who consumed grain alcohol regularly (beer, hard liquor) had a higher percentage chance of having colon or rectal cancer than those who consumed wine and/or did not drink. This study has been argued by others who can only find a weak link between alcohol intake and colorectal cancers. In 2003, Danish researchers completed a metanalysis of this subject and found that an alcohol and colon cancer connection is inconclusive. Another study (Evanston Northwestern Healthcare, 2006) that sought to find the effects of smoking and drinking on the colon does report a significant increase in the percentage of the onset of colorectal cancers in those who drink, smoke or do both.

Other Effects

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The abuse of alcohol can cause colon irritation. This can cause pain, diarrhea and/or constipation. Long-term inflammation can lead to other colon diseases such as irritable bowel. The whole digestive system is affected by chronic alcohol use. There is likely to be malabsorption of vitamins and minerals. Loss of appetite is common, and actual malnutrition can result.


Alcohol can be a wonderful addition to a meal, a social gathering, or a quiet evening at home. In moderation, wine may even be beneficial. However, the misuse and abuse of alcohol can cause serious damage to mental and physical health. It would be wise to err on the side of caution in choosing to drink alcohol.