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Glossary over Alcohol


The term alcohol refers to a family of chemicals that occur widely in nature and are mass-produced for use in antifreezes, fuels and some manufacturing processes.

Alcohol is commonly used to refer to alcohol-containing drinks such as wine, beer and spirits. In this case the alcohol, ethanol, has been produced by a process called fermentation. Consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol can lead to drunkenness and may be harmful to health. (Source: GreenFacts)

Alcohol Attributable Fractions

Alcohol Attributable Fractions (AAFs) are used to express the extent to which alcohol contributes to a health outcome, such as alcohol poisoning, non-alcohol poisoning, road traffic injuries, falls, drownings, violence, and other unintentional or intentional injuries. (Source: GreenFacts)


Alcohol dependence

A chronic disease characterized by a strong craving for alcohol, a constant or periodic reliance on use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, the inability to limit drinking, physical illness when drinking is stopped, and the need for increasing amounts of alcohol to feel its effects. (Source: NIH Understanding Alcohol glossary   )

Alcohol myopia

"Alcohol myopia" refers to the tendency of alcohol to increase a person's concentration upon immediate events and reduce awareness of events which are distant (hence the reference to myopia which is nearsightedness).



The study of the chemical processes and compounds occurring in living organisms. (Source: American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering Glossary  )

Blood coagulation

Blood coagulation is the process by which liquid blood changes into semisolid blood clots. It helps preventing blood loss from damaged blood vessels. (Source: GreenFacts)



Any one of a group of diseases that occur when cells in the body become abnormal and have the potential to spread and establish growth in nearby tissues and other parts of the body (malignancy). (Source: GreenFacts )



A disorder affecting the heart muscle [cells] that usually results in the heart being unable to pump effectively. (Source: AboutKidsHealth Glossary  )



The basic subunit of any living organism; the simplest unit that can exist as an independent living system. There are many different types of cells in complex organisms such as humans, each with specific characteristics. (Source: GreenFacts)



The presence of gallstones in the gallbladder. (Source: WordNet Glossary )


Occurring over a long period of time, either continuously or intermittently; used to describe ongoing exposures and effects that develop only after a long exposure. (Source: US EPA Thesaurus  )

Circulatory system

The system that contains the heart and the blood vessels and moves blood throughout the body. This system helps tissues get enough oxygen and nutrients, and it helps them get rid of waste products. The lymph system, which connects with the blood system, is often considered part of the circulatory system. (Source: NCI Dictionary of cancer terms  )



A condition in which the liver is damaged as a result of infection or by certain substances such as alcohol and some medicines.

The damaged liver cells are replaced by scar tissue [the body tissue, usually stronger than the original tissue, remaining after a wound has healed] and the liver becomes hard and filled with fat. This prevents the liver from properly digesting food, metabolizing drugs and making proteins and can result in liver failure and death. (Source: GreenFacts)

Coronary heart disease

Coronary heart disease is atherosclerosis of the coronary arteries, i.e. a "hardening" of the walls of the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart (coronary arteries).

This hardening is due to fatty deposits called plaques that build on the inner walls of these arteries.

The resulting narrowed passageway decreases or stops the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart, which damages the heart muscles and leads to chest pain, shortness of breath, heart attack, and possibly to death. (Source: GreenFacts)



Depression is a mental condition affecting an individual’s mood.

It is characterized by a range of negative feelings such as sadness, loneliness, despair, low self-esteem and guilt.

A depressed person may lose interest in many aspects of life and no longer find pleasure in activities and relationships. (Source: GreenFacts)


Diabetes is a disease that develops when the body is unable to produce or respond to insulin hormone in the normal way. (Source: GreenFacts)


Dilation (of blood vessels)

The opening up or enlargement of the blood vessels that is controlled by the action of certain hormones on the muscular lining of the vessels.

This allows more or less blood to flow to particular limbs or organs in response to variations in factors such as activity and temperature. (Source: GreenFacts)

Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs)

A method of calculating the global or world-wide health impact of a disease or the global disease burden (GDB) in terms of the reported or estimated cases of premature death, disability and days of infirmity due to illness from a specific disease or condition. (Source: UN Atlas of the Oceans
GESAMP Glossary  )



In its most common usage, drunkenness refers to the state of being intoxicated with alcohol (ie. ethanol) to a degree sufficient to impair mental and motor functioning. (Source: GreenFacts, based on Wikipedia Drunkenness  )

European Commission

"The European Commission (EC) embodies and upholds the general interest of the [European] Union and is the driving force in the Union's institutional system. Its four main roles are to propose legislation to Parliament and the Council, to administer and implement Community policies, to enforce Community law (jointly with the Court of Justice) and to negotiate international agreements, mainly those relating to trade and cooperation."

The Commission's staff is organised into 36 Directorates-General (DGs) and specialised services, such as the Environment DG and the Research DG. (Source: EC website  )


The process by which micro-organisms break down complex organic substances generally in the absence of oxygen to produce alcohol and carbon dioxide. (Source: GreenFacts)


Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs)

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) are a range of effects that can occur in an individual whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy.

Children with FASDs might have the following characteristics or exhibit the following behaviors:

  • Inadequate growth in the womb or after birth
  • Facial abnormalities such as small eye openings
  • Poor coordination
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Learning disabilities (e.g., speech and language delays)
  • Mental retardation or low IQ
  • Poor reasoning and judgment skills
  • Sleep and sucking disturbances in infancy

All FASDs are 100% preventable – if the woman does not drink alcohol while she is pregnant. (Source: GreenFacts, based on CDCFetal Alcohol Information  )



The embryo is referred to as a foetus after it has reached a certain stage of organ development (in humans this is eight weeks after conception). (Source: CSIRO Glossary of terms  )

Gall bladder

An organ that stores bile after it has been produced in the liver and before it is needed in the intestine where it aids the digestion of fats. (Source: GreenFacts)



Inflammation of the stomach that can be caused by viruses, bacteria and certain substances such as alcohol. Gastritis may cause loss of appetite, discomfort after eating, nausea and vomiting. (Source: GreenFacts)


Glucose is naturally occurring sugar and a primary source of energy for living organisms, including humans. Its chemical formula is C6H12O6. (Source: GreenFacts)

Heavy drinking

Heavy drinking is a pattern of drinking that exceeds certain standards that are considered moderate or socially acceptable.

Heavy drinking can be defined in various ways, for example:

  • more than a certain amount per day (e.g. more than three drinks per day),
  • more than a certain quantity per occasion (e.g. five drinks on one occasion, at least once a week), or
  • drinking every day.
(Source: GreenFacts, )

Heavy episodic drinking

As used in the GreenFacts Digest on Alcohol, “heavy episodic drinking” refers to drinking occasions leading to drunkenness, often measured as having more than a certain number of drinks on one occasion. (Source: based on the GreenFacts Digest on Alcohol )



Chemical messengers that help our body do different tasks. Hormones are produced by the endocrine glands and then sent all over the body to stimulate certain activities. For example, insulin is a well-known hormone that helps our body digest food. Hormones regulate our growth, digestion, reproduction and sexual function. (Source: EMCOM Endocrine disruptors glossary  )


Inflammation is the reaction of living tissues to infection, irritation or other injury. (Source: GreenFacts)



A hormone made by [certain] cells of the pancreas. Insulin controls the amount of sugar in the blood by moving it into the cells, where it can be used by the body for energy. (Source: St Jude's Children's Hospital: Medical Terminology & Drug Database  )



A beer brewed from a bottom-fermenting yeast and given a long cool fermentation. (Source: How To Brew Glossary  )


Molecules that are a combination of fat and protein and that transports fats and fat-like substances, such as cholesterol, in the blood. (Source: GreenFacts)



Death. Usually the cause (a specific disease, a condition, or an injury) is stated. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms   )

Mortality rate

A measure of frequency of occurrence of death in a defined population during a specified interval of time. (Source: CDC Reproductive Health Glossary   )

Nervous system

The nervous system is a complex, sophisticated system that regulates and coordinates body activities.

It is made up of:

  • the central nervous system, consisting of the brain and spinal cord, and
  • the peripheral nervous system which includes, the eyes, the ears, the sensory organs of taste and smell, as well as the sensory receptors located in the skin, joints, muscles, and other parts of the body.

A person with power to influence or determine policies and practices at an international, national, regional, or local level. (Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment  Glossary)


A condition in which many nerves throughout the body malfunction simultaneously, affecting senses and movements.

It can occur instantly or develop over time. (Source: GreenFacts)


A group or number of people living within a specified area or sharing similar characteristics (such as occupation or age). (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )



A mental state in which an individual’s contact with reality and thus their ability to relate to other people and their environment is impaired.

It is often caused by false ideas and visions and can result in bizarre behaviors and incoherence.

It is a symptom of several disorders such as schizophrenia and depression.

Psychosis can affect someone temporarily or throughout life. (Source: GreenFacts )

Salivary glands

Small glands located in the cheeks that produce and release saliva, the digestive substance, into the mouth. (Source: GreenFacts)


Scientific Consensus

The Scientific Consensus represents the position generally agreed upon at a given time by most scientists specialized in a given field. (Source: GreenFacts)



A stroke is the sudden and instant death of brain cells following an interruption of the blood supply to the brain.

Ischemic strokes generally occur when a blood clot blocks one of the blood vessels in the brain resulting in a temporary or permanent loss of oxygen supply to the brain. They are the most common form of stroke, accounting for 80% of strokes.

Haemorrhagic strokes account for 20% of strokes and are caused by the rupture of a blood vessel in the brain, causing bleeding into the brain tissue and depriving some areas of oxygen.

Depending on the area of the brain affected, a stroke can cause the paralysis of the arms, legs and facial muscles, weakness, loss of vision and speech, unconsciousness, or death. (Source: GreenFacts)


World Health Organization

"The World Health Organization  (WHO) is the directing and coordinating authority on international health within the United Nations’ system. WHO experts produce health guidelines and standards, and help countries to address public health issues. WHO also supports and promotes health research. Through WHO, governments can jointly tackle global health problems and improve people’s well-being.

193 countries and two associate members are WHO’s membership. They meet every year at the World Health Assembly in Geneva to set policy for the Organization, approve the Organization’s budget, and every five years, to appoint the Director-General. Their work is supported by the 34-member Executive Board, which is elected by the Health Assembly. Six regional committees focus on health matters of a regional nature."

WHO's scientific publications are widely recognized as a reference source.

The WHO has a number of regional offices which address the specific issues of those regions.

WHO World Regional Offices
  WHO African Region  (46 countries)
  WHO European Region  (53 countries)
  WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region  (21 countries)
  WHO Region of the Americas  (35 countries)
  WHO South-East Asia Region  (11 countries)
  WHO Western Pacific Region  (27 countries)

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