Bacterial colonies in the body can be influenced by a range of factors, which include lifestyle habits, diet, and medication. Drinking alcohol also appears to have impact on microbiome.
Good And Bad Bacteria
Just like other parts of the body, the mouth naturally contains an assortment of bacteria. Some of these are good, and some are bad.
Researchers of a new study, which was published in the journal Microbiome on April 24, revealed that those who drink one or more alcoholic beverages daily tend to have an overabundance of bad bacteria and a smaller amount of good bacteria in the mouth compared with those who do not drink alcohol.
The findings suggest that alcohol may drive an increase in strains of harmful oral bacteria, the kind that are linked to increased risk for gum disease, heart problems, and some types of cancer. Drinking alcohol also appears to suppress the variety of bacteria that protects the body from infection.
"Heavy drinking may influence bacterial composition, including potential depletion of beneficial commensal bacteria and increased colonization of potentially pathogenic bacteria," study researcher Jiyoung Ahn, from NYU School of Medicine, and colleagues wrote in their study.
"Such changes potentially contribute to alcohol-related diseases, including periodontal disease, head and neck cancer, and digestive tract cancers."
Other Unwanted Consequences Of Heavy Drinking
Heavy drinkers should not only be concerned about having gum problems and bad breath. Studies have shown that habitual and heavy alcohol drinking can have long-term consequences.
A study published in January revealed that alcohol consumption may cause permanent genetic damage to the stem cells of the body. Researchers found that alcohol causes cancer by scrambling the DNA in the cells.
A 2017 study also found that even moderate drinking is associated with increased risk for hippocampal atrophy, the degeneration of the brain's hippocampus, which can lead to cognitive and memory dysfunction.
Drinking alcohol also disrupts normal brain development. Heavy drinking during adolescence has been found to change the electrical activity in the brain.
Studies have also shown that alcohol can be harmful to the male reproductive system. Alcohol abuse can cause infertility, as heavy alcohol consumption appears to affect sperm quality and sperm count.
Numerous deaths and injury have likewise been linked to drinking too much alcohol.
"Excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life lost (YPLL) each year in the United States from 2006 - 2010, shortening the lives of those who died by an average of 30 years," the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned.
"Excessive drinking was responsible for 1 in 10 deaths among working-age adults aged 20-64 years."