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Monday, 8 August 2022

Alcohol Use: Weighing the Risks and Benefits

 Alcohol Use: Weighing the Risks and Benefits

Understanding the risks of alcohol and any potential health benefits can often seem confusing; That's understandable, because the evidence for moderate alcohol use in healthy adults is not definitive.

Researchers know surprisingly little about the risks or benefits of moderate alcohol use in healthy adults. Almost all lifestyle studies, including diet, exercise, caffeine, and alcohol, rely on patient recall and accurate reporting of a person's habits over several years. These studies suggest that the two things may be related, but that one does not necessarily cause the other. It may be that adults who are in good health engage in more social activities and enjoy moderate amounts of alcohol, but alcohol has nothing to do with making them healthy.

Any potential benefits of alcohol are relatively small and may not apply to all individuals. In fact, the latest dietary guidelines specify that no one should start drinking alcohol or drink more often based on the potential health benefits. For many people, the potential benefits do not outweigh the risks and avoiding alcohol is the best course of action.

On the other hand, if you are a light to moderate drinker and you are healthy, you can probably continue drinking alcohol as long as you do so responsibly.

Define medium

Moderate alcohol use for healthy adults generally means up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.

Examples of a drink include:

Beer: 12 fluid ounces (355 milliliters)

Wine: 5 fluid ounces (148 milliliters)

Distilled spirits (80 proof): 1.5 fluid ounces (44 milliliters)

Advantages and disadvantages of moderate alcohol use

Moderate alcohol consumption may provide several health benefits, such as:

Reduce your risk of developing heart disease and dying

possibly reducing your risk of ischemic stroke (when the arteries in your brain become narrowed or blocked, causing a severe reduction in blood flow)

Possibly reducing your risk of diabetes

However, eating a healthy diet and being physically active have many more health benefits and have been studied more extensively.

Keep in mind that even moderate alcohol use is not risk-free. For example, light drinkers (those who drink no more than one drink a day) also have a small, but real, increased risk of some cancers, such as esophageal cancer. And drinking and driving is never a good idea.

Dangers of heavy alcohol use

While moderate alcohol use may provide some health benefits, heavy drinking – including binge drinking – has no health benefits.

Heavy or high-risk drinking is defined as more than three drinks on any day or more than seven drinks per week for women and men over 65, and more than four drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks per week for men. Age 65 and younger.

Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks in two hours for women and five or more drinks in two hours for men.

Drinking too much can increase the risk of serious health problems, including:

Certain cancers, including breast cancer and cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and liver


Sudden death if you already have cardiovascular disease

Damage to the heart muscle (alcoholic cardiomyopathy) leads to heart failure



High blood pressure

Liver disease


Accidental serious injury or death

Brain damage and other problems in the unborn child

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome

When to avoid alcohol

In certain situations, the risks of alcohol may outweigh the potential health benefits. For example, check with your doctor about drinking if:

You are pregnant or trying to become pregnant

You have been diagnosed with alcoholism or alcohol addiction or have a strong family history of alcoholism

you have had a hemorrhagic stroke (when blood vessels in your brain leak or burst)

You have liver or pancreatic disease

You have heart failure or have been told you have a weak heart

You take prescription or over-the-counter medications that may interact with alcohol

Decisions about drinking

If you don't drink alcohol, don't start because of the potential health benefits. However, if you're a light to moderate drinker and you're healthy, you can probably continue as long as you drink responsibly. Be sure to check with your doctor about what is right for your health and safety.

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