Alcohol

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Chemical Formula

An alcohol is any molecule with the chemical structure ROH. This means any molecule with an hydroxide functional group bonded to a carbon atom which forms part of a generic R group. Common examples of alcohols are methanol (chemical formula CH4), ethanol (chemical formula C2H5OH) and petroleum or petrol (chemical formula C27H44O6). [1]

When the term alcohol is used, it is most often being used to refer to ethanol, the form of alcohol used in alcoholic beverages.

Alcohol Consumption

Ethanol is commonly consumed and can have a lot of negative health complications either through direct damage (for example to the liver) of by exacerbating other issues.There were 6769 alcohol related deaths in 2008, of which 4400 were as a consequence of alcoholic liver disease[2]. It has also shown some links to developing other harmful habits such as smoking.

The speed at which alcohol is metabolised can have an effect on drinking habits and drinking effects.[3] "Most ethanol elimination occurs by oxidation to acetaldehyde and acetate, catalyzed principally by alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH)." [4] According to the NHS 1 unit of alcohol is metabolised every hour on average [5]. This is based on a healthy person of normal weight and with no issues relating to the metabolic pathways associated with the metabolism of alcohol.

References

  1. http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=petrol&a=*C.petrol-_*Chemical-&a=*DPClash.GasPriceE.petrol-_*AllGrades.dflt-
  2. Office for National Statistics: Alcohol Deaths (2008) Available at: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=1091 Accessed: 23/07/2010
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=pubmed&cmd=search&term=11762132
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=pubmed&cmd=search&term=11762132
  5. http://www.nhs.uk/chq/pages/853.aspx?categoryid=87&subcategoryid=871
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