Want a Reason to Dial Back the Alcohol?

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Besides the obvious one, I mean.

Consumption of alcoholic drinks has been up in the United States in the past year and, well, you can probably guess why. A glass of wine every once in a while won’t hurt you, and in fact, in moderation, a little bit of wine is good for your heart. But as usual, the problem we frequently encounter is with that lovely little word “moderation.”

Obviously, drinking too much is bad for you. You’ll mess up your liver, you’ll mess up your stomach, you’ll smell bad, and all those other well-known quirks. But here’s something you might not be aware of: overindulging in alcoholic beverages can cause more frequent bouts of acid reflux. See, when you drink alcohol, the little part at the bottom of your esophagus that connects to the stomach relaxes, which allows the acid in your stomach to flow upward and cause that sour burning sensation.

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Regular heartburn is pretty awful on its own, but repeatedly inflicting it upon yourself can lead to long-term complications. Those who suffer from long-lasting, untreated acid reflux can develop what’s known as Barrett’s esophagus, a damaged passageway between the esophagus and stomach. According to the American Cancer Society, having Barrett’s esophagus puts you at higher risk of developing cancer of the throat or stomach later in life. It won’t happen right away, mind you, but it is a definable risk factor.

So whether you’re out with friends or just need to dissociate for a few minutes, remember to keep a tight lid on your alcohol consumption. Unless you want to deal with a burning esophagus for the rest of your life, or worse.