Prof. Ganiyu Arinola of the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, says certain lifestyles including excessive consumption of alcohol may damage the human immune system with high risk of susceptibility to infections and life-threatening conditions such as liver cancer or liver diseases.
“Excessive alcohol may damage the immune system because alcohol reduces white blood cells (cells of defence system) and destroys essential nutrients like vitamins needed by the white blood cells to function well.
“Excessive alcohol intake can harm the body’s immune system in two ways — it produces an overall nutritional deficiency depriving the body of valuable immune-boasting nutrients.
“Also, it can reduce the ability of white blood cells to multiply, inhibit the action of killer white cells on cancer cells,” Arinola, the Chemical Pathology lecturer, told the Newsmen in Ibadan on Sunday.
According to him, the amount of alcohol that is enough to cause intoxication will suppress immunity.
Arinola, who is also a Consultant Immunologist at UCH, said alcohol could cause serious consequences for a person’s body
and mind as well as impede the immune system to fight infections and diseases.
`Digestion of nutrients is impaired by alcohol as a result of damage caused to the cells in the digestive tract.
“Alcoholism as a lifestyle can also impede the ability of the liver to store important vitamins and prevent the body from absorbing enough protein,” the expert said.
The professor explained that too much alcohol in the body could reduce the ability of white cells to kill germs.
“The human body is exposed to numerous germs every single day which can be found in the air, food or water.
“The immunity of children and the aged is not strong enough to combat some diseases. Infants are born with only passive
immunity received from the mother through the placenta and breast milk.
“Some drugs used for medication, cocaine and opioids (used medically to relieve pains) may also damage the immune system,” Arinola said.
He advised people both young and old to engage in physical exercise daily to boost their immunity.
“The World Health Organisation and the American Heart Association have advised a minimum of 30 minutes of daily physical exercise for at least five days a week.
“Adults who perform moderate physical exercise have better immune system than those with sedentary life.”