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Lecture 15

Health Sciences 1001A/B Lecture Notes - Lecture 15: Blood Alcohol Content, Fortified Wine, Drink Mixer


Health Sciences
Course Code
HS 1001A/B
Shauna Burke

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Alcohol: The intoxicating ingredient in fermented/distilled beverages; colourless, pungent
Types of alcohol
o Beer
3-6% alc
Mixture of grains
Ales and malt liquors are similar, around 6-8% alc
o Wine
9-14% alc
Fermenting juices of grapes and fruits
Fermentation: sugars from fruit react with yeast = ethanol
Fortified wine is wine with added alc
Ex: sherry, port, Madeira
20% alc
o Hard Liquor
Gin, Rye, Rum, Tequila, Vodka, Liqueur
Distilling brewed/fermented grains/plants
30-50% alc but can be stronger
Any beverage containing 1.1% or more alc by volume is considered an alcoholic beverage
All labels must include the amount of alc in the product
One drink = amount of beverage that typically contains 13.6 grams of "pure" alc
o 12 oz beer = 5 oz wine = 3 oz fortified wine = 1.5 oz liquor
People don't always limit themselves to one drink
o Most servings of alc beverages are much larger
o Ex: mixed drinks, often containing more than one type of hard liquor
Canadian companies not required to list # of standard drinks on alc labels
It is important for individuals to have awareness about what a standard drink is and how
many "drinks" are in one container of alc
Caloric content
o 7 cal/g
o One standard drink (14-17g) = 100-120 cal
Varies per drink
Ex: Beer = 140 cal per beer
"light" in light beer refers to # of calories, NOT alc level
o Consuming alc on a regular basis adds lots of extra calories to one's diet
Could lead to weight gain and potential health problems
o Strategies for cutting back on alc
Not drinking every day
Spacing drinks at least one hour apart
Replacing alc beverages with "virgin" or half alc substitutes
o 20% of alc is rapidly absorbed from stomach into the bloodstream
o 75% is absorbed through the upper part of the small intestine
o Remaining alc enters through gastrointestinal tract
o Alc produces feelings of intoxication
o Rate of absorption:
Carbonation in beverage (ex: champagne) increases alcohol absorption rate
Same with artificial sweeteners (ex: drink mixers)
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Food in the stomach slows rate of absorption
Drinking of hard liquor slows rate of absorption
ALL ALCOHOL a person consumes is ABSORBED
Metabolism and Excretion
o Alc is rapidly distributed throughout most body tissues
o Main site of alc metabolism is the liver
Small amount of alc is metabolized in the stomach
o Processes of metabolism
Alc converted to acetaldehyde, then acetate, then burned for energy or converted
to fat
Enzymes for this process vary among individuals
This explains how different people react to alcohol
o Metabolism - chemical transformation of food and other substances in the body into
energy and wastes
o Some people, primarily of Asian descent inherit ineffective/inactive variations of ALDH
Metabolism of alcohol may not be as quick
o Others, ex: Jewish population and African descent metabolizes very quickly
o Acetaldehyde buildup occurs when people drink alcohol
Reaction: Flushing Syndrome
Skin feels hot, heart + respiration rates increase, headache, vomit, hives
Severety of reaction is affected by the inherited form of their alcohol
metabolizing enzymes
o 2-10% of alc is not metabolized in the liver/tissues
Instead, it is excreted unchanged by the lungs, kidneys, and sweat glands
Ex: Smelling alc on a person's breath
Explains breath and urine analysis for alc levels
o Alc enters human brain
Affects neurotransmitters temporarily
With chronic heavy usage, alc effects become permanent
Interferes with production of new brain cells until the age of 21
In mature adults, new brain cells are unable to be produced to replace
damaged ones
Alcohol Intake and Blood Alcohol Concentration
o Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) = Ratio of alcohol in a person's blood by weight
expressed as a percentage of alcohol measured in a decilitre of blood
Affected by amount of alc consumed in a given amount of time and a few factors:
Body weight
Small person has higher BAC than large person after drinking the
same amount of alc
Has less overall body tissue into which alc can be distributed
Percentage of body fat
Alc does not concentrate as much in fatty tissue as in muscle and
most other tissues
Because fat has fewer blood vessels
Woman metabolize less alcohol in the stomach than men do
Stomach enzyme that breaks down alc before it enters
bloodstream is 4 times as active in men as in women
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Women will have higher BAC than men
Hormonal fluctuations may also affect their rate of alc metabolism
Ex: menstrual cycle
BAC depends on rate of alc absorption and rate of alc metabolism
Rate of alc metabolism varies among individuals
Genetic factors and drinking behaviour
Chronic drinking activates enzymes that metabolize alcohol in the
People who drink frequently metabolize alcohol at a more rapid
rate than non drinkers
Metabolic rate CANNOT be influenced by exercising, breathing
deeply, eating, drinking coffee, or taking other drugs
People can drink large amounts of alcohol over a long period by absorbing slightly
less alc each hour than they can metabolize in an hour without becoming
noticeably intoxicated
Still long term health hazards
If people drink alc more quickly than it can be metabolized, the BAC will steadily
They will become increasingly drunk
Alcohol and Health
o Immediate Effects of Alcohol
o Alc is a Central Nervous System depressant
o When BAC is increasing rather than decreasing, the effects of alcohol are more
o If a person drinks on an empty stomach, alcohol is absorbed more quickly and BAC rises
more quickly
o Low Concentrations of alcohol:
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