After 10 minutes, 50% of alcohol is absorbed into the body, and a small amount is absorbed by the mouth.
Membranes in the mouth can be irritated with drinks of high alcohol content. Frequent, excessive consumption increases the risk of mouth and throat cancer. Cancer of the oesophagus (oesophageal cancer) deteriorates the ability to swallow. It is 3 times more common in men and to those over 60 years of age.
Alcohol is not digested. It's molecules pass through the stomach lining with ease due to their minute size
The enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase begins breaking down the alcohol, reducing the quantity entering the blood by approximately 20%
Women produce less of this enzyme which may account for them having less resistance to alcohol's side-effect
Carbonated alcohol increases the rate of absorption
Appetite is increased by small quantities of alcohol due to a greater amount of stomach juices - in excess the appetite becomes dulled and over a prolonged period would lead to malnutrition. With this excessive flow of gastric juices and alcohol comes irritation of the stomach lining that can lead to stomach ulcers. In an attempt to relieve some of this irritation the body has a reflex action of vomiting.
Approximately 80% of alcohol is absorbed in the upper portion of the small intestine. The rate of absorption depends upon things like:
- the concentration of alcohol in the beverage - the greater the concentration, the faster the absorption
- the type of drink - carbonated beverages tend to speed up the absorption of alcohol
- whether the stomach is full or empty - food slows down alcohol absorption.