Hangovers – Electrolytes

Last week, we talked about what a hangover is, what its symptoms are and why hangovers cause headaches. This week, we’ll take a brief look at the importance of electrolytes in relation to hangovers.

A little recap

A little while ago, we talked about how alcohol inhibits a hormone called the antidiuretic hormone, which is the hormone that allows the body to reabsorb water from our kidneys before the kidneys send the final solution to our bladders for release. With this inhibition, not only is there not enough water reabsorbed but, because this hormone is inhibited, we urinate frequently under the influence of alcohol.

Now where do electrolytes fit in?

As a result of this frequent urination, we lose more than just water from our bodies. In addition to water, we lost electrolytes like sodium and potassium.

These electrolytes are important for several processes in our bodies, including nerve and muscle functions. When you lose a lot of electrolytes, your nerve and muscle functions are weaker as they require the electrolytes to help propagate signals. This is why you feel tired the morning after a rowdy night.

The absence of electrolytes also leaves you feeling nauseous and with an awful headache because of how dehydrated you are.

Help me, what can I do?

There was a post I did a million years ago (it was last July) where I talked a bit about electrolytes. Here’s the deal with them: where electrolytes go, water goes. So it’s time to power up with some electrolytes because the more electrolytes there are in your body, the better your body will retain water and the easier it will be to rehydrate! So grab some sports drinks, make sure it has some potassium in it, and rehydrate! You’ll feel like a normal being soon enough 🙂

The Urinary System – Concentration and Dilution

Last time, we talked about how the urinary system allows for our bodies to selectively reabsorbs things that were filtered out of our circulatory system. One of the molecules that can be reabsorbed is water, which is an important molecule for several reasons. In terms of the urinary system, water is important for the concentration and dilution of our urine.

The concentration and the dilution of urine is regulated by 2 hormones: Anti-diuretic hormone and Aldosterone.

The anti-diuretic hormone is released if you’re dehydrated, and literally translates to “against the passing of urine”. In situations where you are dehydrated, your blood volume will be low due to the lack of a sufficient amount of water, resulting in a lower blood pressure. To counteract this, the anti-diuretic acts to reduce the amount of water lost by the body and minimizes how much urine you make and release. This will result in a more concentrated urine that has a less water than usual and is a deeper yellow due to the higher concentration of urea.

Aldosterone is also released when you’re dehydrated. This hormone is responsible for the increase in thirst while also helping your body retain water by increasing the amount of sodium in your body. The more solute there is in your body, the more likely water is to stay with the solute (rules of osmosis, hurray!).

These hormones exert their effects primarily on the distal tubule of the nephron (after the loop of Henle), so that is where the water is reabsorbed!

So when these hormones are released, your urine will be more concentrated because water is retained by your body! Amazing, right?

Next week: We will finally get to talking about the effect of Alcohol on Urine!

Is there something you’d like to learn about? Tell me about it here and I may just do a post about it 🙂

The Urinary System – Selective Reabsorption

Last week, we learned about the general filtration process that occurs in our kidneys. This week, we’ll learn just how our kidneys modify the filtrate to produce urine.

The filtrate that is in the renal tubule consists of water as well as other small molecules, like sugars and urea. Some of these molecules, like sugars, can return to the bloodstream in a ‘process’ known as selective reabsorption. It’s called ‘selective’ reabsorption because the bloodstream is picky as to what it absorbs from the tubule. The molecules that leave the tubule enter tiny blood vessels next to the tubule, which are called peritubular capillaries. The molecules can then be carried through the rest of the circulatory system, to provide our body cells with nutrients (if they’re sugars).

Parts of the Kidney

Selective reabsorption mainly occurs in the proximal tubule, which is the beginning of the tubule. The proximal tubule is just after the Bowman’s capsule. Whenever a molecule leaves, it is accompanies by water, which means a lot of water is reabsorbed by the bloodstream in this process.

By returning the molecules to the bloodstream, the remaining filtrate’s composition changes. As water leaves, the concentration of particles in the tubule increases.

Hormones can affect what is reabsorbed in the distal tubule. These hormones are the anitidiuretic hormone (ADH), which is also known as vasopressin, and aldosterone. They’ll be discussed next week when we talk about Concentration and Dilution!

Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

Last week, we talked about breast cancer and how you can take certain steps to be aware of your breast health.
This week, we’ll look at a list of risk factors that have been linked to the development of breast cancer. By knowing these risk factors ahead of time, we can help in reducing our risk of breast cancer.
Risk factors
Risk factors increase one’s chances of developing breast cancer. Studies that have looked for risk factors look for things that are common in people who develop breast cancer than in others. You should know thought that risk factors don’t always act at the same magnitude, so take this with a grain of salt. Risk factors don’t always lead to the disease, so please don’t create a checklist and start to freak out. It’ll really help no one.
Luckily, some risk factors are modifiable so you do have some control over your health. Others aren’t as easy to hear about, as they might have to do with your genes, or other uncontrollable traits.

Modifiable Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

  • Body weight
  • Physical activity
  • Alcohol use
    • is a known carcinogen (cancer-inducing agent).
    • Depends on how much you drink and how often
  • Smoking
  • Hormone replacement therapy and contraceptives
    • Estrogen and progesterones can sometimes increase our risk of breast cancer
    • Synthetic hormones can also increase this risk
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding
    • Having gone through pregnancy and breastfeeding can actually lower your risk of getting breast cancer. Now, I’m not saying “Go make babies now!”. But, I mean, babies are cute…
    • Having a child after the age of 35 may bring about a slight increase of risk, much like not having a child at all (This is just for you, ladies. Men, your breasts don’t care if you have kids or not)
  • Radiation exposure

Non- modifiable Risk factors

  • Gender and age
    • Women have a greater risk than men because of those specialized lobules they have.
    • Risk increases as you age
  • History of cancer (family or personal)
  • Early menstruation/late menopause
  • Breast density or conditions
  • BRCA gene mutations

Factors that aren’t risk factors

  • Deodorants or antiperspirants
  • Bras
  • Breast Implants
  • Stress
  • Abortion

Now remember, risk factors don’t always lead to the disease but it’s always good to look after yourself! So take care, know your body and stay healthy 🙂


Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. 2013. Breast Cancer Risk Factors. CBCF.orghttp://www.cbcf.org/central/AboutBreastHealth/PreventionRiskReduction/risk_factors/Pages/default.aspx. November 7, 2013.

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