Twenty-six episodes of ‘The A-Files’ will run throughout Alcohol Awareness Month on YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Alcohologist.com and AddictedMinds.com, among other web and social media sites. Episode A covers a byproduct of alcohol metabolism, acetaldehyde.

Acetaldehyde is not a household word. If one in twenty of your friends know what the chemical is, you’ve probably found the scientist in your crew. However, you cannot drink even one of these without putting acetaldehyde in your body. Alcohol is toxic, so the liver breaks it down to get it out of the body. The process goes from alcohol to acetaldehyde to acetic acid to carbon dioxide and water. In getting rid of the toxin, alcohol, your body first breaks it down into a chemical 30 times more toxic than the alcohol.

When I do a public or school presentation and the fire code allows it, I demonstrate how volatile the chemical is. Acetaldehyde is an industrial chemical used to make plastics and adhesives and it used to be in spray paint and nail polish remover until a less reactive alternative was commercially feasible. You wouldn’t knowing put this in your body, but your body makes it with every single ounce of alcohol.

Acetaldehyde’s destruction of tissue is why the CDC recommended ZERO alcohol during pregnancy and why a study on cancer in the American Journal of Public Health concluded that when it comes to cancer, no amount of drinking is safe. Other A-Files episodes will cover FASD and cancer. Alcohol’s ability to impair reaction time and judgment are no laughing matter as 10,000 alcohol-related traffic deaths a year will document. The long-term damage from alcohol use is what results in another seven times more death and illness.

The morning after drinking, you feel the results of the acetaldehyde toxicity: The hangover. Long term, whether a person is a casual drinker or has the disease of alcoholism, acetaldehyde weakens the immune system and damages otherwise healthy tissue in every organ because the blood circulates acetaldehyde through the entire body. The more you drink, and the more frequently you do it, the greater the health risk. And it starts with a single drink.

In fact, alcohol and it’s acetaldehyde byproduct are so toxic, if the liver had pain nerve endings, none of us would ever take a second drink.