Impact on Immunity and Hormonal Function

Alcohol and Athletic Performance
Picture: National Academy of Sports Medicine. Certified
Nutrition Coach.

Immune Function

Impact on immunity and hormonal function is rather obvious. To start with, сhronic alcohol consumption has been linked to impaired immune function and increased vulnerability to various infections in heavy drinkers (Cook, 1998). Even short-term alcohol use can weaken the immune system and make the drinker more susceptible to infection (Greiffenstein, Mathis, Stouwe, & Molina, 2007; Szabo, 1999) and affect recovery from illness or injury.

Hormonal Function

The use of alcohol has the potential to affect the balance of hormones in the body. In both men and women, alcohol consumption can reduce testosterone levels in men and increase levels of estrogen. These changes can have an impact on various aspects of physical and sexual health, including muscle mass, bone density, fertility, and sexual function. For women, increased estrogen levels can also raise the risk of developing breast cancer (Sarkola, Mäkisalo, Fukunaga, & Eriksson, 1999).


  1. Chronic alcohol use is associated with altered immune function and increased susceptibility to infectious diseases.
  2. Acute alcohol consumption can negatively impact immune function and recovery from illness or trauma.
  3. Alcohol can alter normal hormone secretion, leading to a reduction in testosterone in men and an increase in estrogen in both sexes.
  4. These hormone changes can impact muscle mass, bone density, fertility, and sexual function.
  5. The increase in estrogen levels may contribute to an increased risk of breast cancer in females.



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The impact of alcohol on immunity and hormonal function is negative. Chronic alcohol use weakens immunity and makes individuals more susceptible to infections. Acute alcohol consumption also hurts immune function. Ethanol alters hormone secretion, reducing testosterone in men and increasing estrogen in both sexes, affecting muscle mass, bone density, fertility, and sexual function and increasing the risk of breast cancer in women.