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Endocrinology and alcohol 

Endocrinology and alcohol
Endocrinology and alcohol

Margit G. Proescholdt

and Marc Walter

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date: 26 May 2022

Alcohol has widespread effects on multiple organs, including the endocrine organs, potentially impairing endocrine function and affecting the entire endocrine milieu. Endocrine impairment may be observed with acute alcohol ingestion, excessive chronic alcohol consumption, and during alcohol withdrawal. Whereas many effects of alcohol on the endocrine organs are reversible following cessation of alcohol consumption, some changes may extend into abstinence. Importantly, endocrine dysfunction observed in alcoholism, is no longer considered to simply result from hepatic failure or chronic malnutrition, but, at least partially, from direct, toxic actions of alcohol on the endocrine organs themselves. In addition, there is increasing evidence that the endocrine system itself may play a crucial role in the pathogenesis of addictive behaviour.

Ethanol and its metabolite acetaldehyde directly affect cell membranes and influences intracellular metabolism. Indirect effects include stress, nausea, and vomiting during acute intoxication and withdrawal. Whereas the list of alcohol-induced endocrine dysfunction is long, scientific and epidemiological evidence is frequently controversial. Controversies may result from the highly heterogenic group of alcohol-dependent individuals regarding dose and duration of alcohol consumption, periods of abstinence, age, gender, nutritional status, cigarette smoking, use of other drugs, presence of other diseases, particularly liver disease, and the complexity of endocrine regulation in general.

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