Alcohol has been drunk in human societies for at least ten thousand years, and today has become a common and accepted way to unwind from the pressures of life. But people are also aware that drinking alcohol has its dangers: it impairs our reaction times; it can damage our livers; it can increase the risk of developing certain cancers; and it can be addictive, ruining careers and lives. But there are counter-claims that small regular amounts of alcohol improve health
and lengthen life. What is the truth?
Alcohol and Human Health is a multidisciplinary account of the science behind drinking alcohol and its effects on human health. The book first puts the problems into perspective by looking at the global health and accident statistics relating to alcohol drinking. It then goes on to study the basic chemistry of the ethanol molecule, and explains how ethanol is absorbed and metabolised by the body, and how it damages the liver, kidneys and brain. The authors then explore the effects of
drinking alcohol on behaviour, motor control and memory, and in the process, discuss the causes of addiction and the possibilities for treatment, using case stories to highlight the effects of excessive drinking. The book concludes by evaluating the evidence for the benefits of moderate drinking.
Alcohol and Human Health is accompanied by a fully interactive DVD, which includes molecular models of key chemical structures featured in the book, together with animations of the alcohol 'journey' through the body illustrating its effects on the liver and at synapses in the nervous system. Also on the DVD are videos illustrating how the effects of alcohol and placebo can be investigated experimentally, and interviews with undergraduates discussing their attitudes to drinking and with
recovering alcoholics and staff at Alcoholics Anonymous.
The Online Resource Centre features:
For lecturers who are registered adopters of the book:
- Figures from the book in electronic format, available to download
- Access to ROUTES, a searchable internet database of online resources compiled by academic staff and subject-specialist librarians.
Dr Lesley Smart joined the academic staff of the Open University in 1977 and, since that time, has contributed to many undergraduate chemistry courses, most recently chairing the production of a new level two course bringing together the teaching of organic, physical, and inorganic chemistry for the first time. The third edition of her co-authored book, Solid State Chemistry: an introduction (CRC Press) was published in 2005. Lesley's research interests include solid state chemistry and catalysis, and in particular preparing and characterizing new materials and catalysts. Lesley became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2005, and is on the editorial board of Education in Chemistry.
1. Alcohol and its effects on health ; 1.1 Alcohol has a long history ; 1.2 Problems in estimating alcohol consumption ; 1.3 Variations in alcohol consumption around the world ; 1.4 Alcohol, youth and gender - Rachel's story ; 1.5 Alcohol and the world's health ; 1.6 Economic costs of alcohol-related harm ; 2. The chemistry of alcohol ; 2.1 Introduction ; 2.2 The alcohol molecule ; 2.3 The properties of ethanol ; 2.4 The metabolism of ethanol in the body ; 2.5 The chemical reactions of ethanol ; 2.6 Does drinking alcohol make you fat? ; 3. Where does alcohol go in the body? ; 3.1 Absorption of alcohol from the gut ; 3.2 Transport of absorbed ethanol in the body ; 3.3 Ethanol from the gut first passes through the liver ; 3.4 The effect of ethanol on the kidneys ; 4. Alcohol - link to brain, behaviour and mind ; 4.1 How to understand why people drink alcohol ; 4.2 Psychological perspectives on drinking alcohol ; 4.3 Alcohol and the brain ; 4.4 Associations between alcohol, smoking and sex ; 4.5 Addiction to alcohol ; 5. How alcohol causes short- and long-term harmful effects ; 5.1 Introduction ; 5.2 Hangovers ; 5.3 Long-term problems for chronic alcoholism ; 5.4 Nervous system damage ; 5.5 Fetal alcohol syndrome ; 5.6 Treatment ; 6. Balancing harms with possible benefits ; 6.1 Is there a 'safe' level of alcohol intake? ; 6.2 Can moderate drinking bring any health benefits? ; 6.3 Final Comments