Alcohol does much more harm to the body than just damaging the liver, new research indicates.
Researchers at the Loyola University Medical Center have found that alcohol intake can also weaken the immune system, slow healing, impair bone formation, increase the risk of HIV transmission and hinder recovery from burns, trauma, bleeding and surgery.
At Loyola, about 50 faculty members, technicians, post-doctoral fellows and students are conducting alcohol research.
Studies at Loyola and other centers could lead to therapies to boost the immune system or otherwise minimize the effects of alcohol, said Elizabeth J. Kovacs, director of Loyola's Alcohol Research Program and associate director of Loyola's Burn and Shock Trauma Institute.
"Of course, the best way to prevent the damaging effects of alcohol is to not drink in the first place. But it is very difficult to get people to do this," she said.
The latest findings were presented during a meeting of the Alcohol and Immunology Research Interest Group at Loyola.