Monday, December 5

Doctors warn of risks, danger of chronic alcohol intake


KUALA LUMPUR: Proactive measures should be taken to create awareness among the Malaysian public of the risks and danger of chronic alcohol abuse, doctors said.

UM Specialist Centre (UMSC) consultant psychiatrist Assoc Prof Dr Muhammad Muhsin Ahmad Zahari said the
awareness campaign must start in schools and it could be incorporated into other healthy lifestyle practices.

“Alcohol abuse is associated with domestic violence, danger when driving or handling machines and also, danger to the foetus of pregnant women,” he told Bernama in an e-mail interview in response to the recent alcohol poisoning incidents that had killed 36 people, as at Sept 23.

UMSC gastroenterology consultant Prof Dr Ida Normiha Hilmi said the public should be made aware that abuse of alcohol, like drugs, pose the risk of adverse effects.

“Therefore, if you choose to consume alcohol, you should be mindful of the amount and try to avoid binge drinking.

“Alcohol dependence syndrome is a psychiatric disorder where the person is addicted to alcohol,” she warned.

“Traditionally, it is said that three ‘drinks’ a day (which can consist of half a pint of beer, one glass of wine or one shot of spirit) for men and two drinks a day for women is considered a safe limit,” said Dr Ida.

However, she cited a recent study which showed that there is no such thing as a safe limit and that any amount of alcohol is linked to many diseases.

Dr Ida said the adverse effects of alcohol are also dependent on many factors, such as the individuals’ genetic profile and whether or not they are on medications, stressing that binge drinking is also more detrimental than drinking small amounts regularly.

She outlined the conditions associated with alcohol abuse which include acute gastritis, cirrhosis of the liver with or without liver cancer, and acute and chronic pancreatitis.

Chronic (longstanding) excessive alcohol consumption will initially result in fatty liver progressing to liver fibrosis (mild scarring) and eventually liver cirrhosis (severe scarring and hardening of the liver).

“When someone develops cirrhosis, there is a risk of liver failure which results in jaundice, coma and death.

“Patients with alcoholic liver cirrhosis also risk developing liver cancer,” said Dr Ida.

She added that long-term excessive alcohol consumption also contribute to chronic
pancreatitis, which led to malnutrition, diabetes and pain, noting that these patients also risked developing pancreatic cancer. — Bernama