Drinking moderately may offer some health benefits, but drinking too much can have serious consequences. It seems a contradictory message: drinking alcohol can offer health benefits, especially for your heart. On the other hand, it can increase the risk of health problems and damage your heart.
So what is the right message? When it comes to drinking alcohol, the key is to do it in moderation. Certainly, you do not have to drink any alcohol, and if you do not drink now, do not start doing it for health benefits. In some cases, it is safer to avoid alcohol altogether: the potential benefits do not outweigh the risks.
Health Benefits of Moderate Alcohol Consumption
Moderate alcohol consumption can cause health benefits:
- Reduce the risk of developing heart disease and death by them.
- It possibly reduces the risk of cerebral infarction (when the arteries in the brain narrow or block, causing the blood flow to be severely reduced).
- Possibly reduces the risk of diabetes
Even so, evidence about the potential health benefits of alcohol is not true, and alcohol may not benefit all people.
Guide to Moderate Alcohol Consumption
If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, this means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men over 65, and up to two drinks per day for men under 65 years.
Examples of measuring a beverage:
- Beer: 355 milliliters
- Wine: 148 milliliters
- Distilled alcohols (80 volume of alcohol): 44 milliliters
Drinking moderate alcohol can be beneficial if you are an adult or if you have risk factors for heart disease. If you are middle-aged or younger, some research shows that moderate alcohol can cause more harm than good. You can take other measures to benefit from cardiovascular health other than drinking: follow a healthy diet and exercise, for example.
When to avoid drinking alcohol
In certain situations, the risks of alcohol consumption may outweigh the potential benefits. For example, drink alcohol carefully and after consulting with your doctor if:
- You are pregnant or trying to be pregnant.
- You were diagnosed with alcoholism or alcohol abuse, or you have a history of alcoholism.
- You have pancreatitis or liver disease (damage to liver function and structure).
- You have heart failure or you are diagnosed with a weak heart.
- Take prescription or over-the-counter medications that interact with alcohol.
- If you had cerebral hemorrhage (when a blood vessel in the brain breaks or bleeds).
Keep in mind that even moderate consumption is not without risks. For example, drinking and driving is never a good idea.
Risks of excessive alcohol consumption
Inconsistent consumption is defined as more than three drinks a day or more than seven a week in women and men over 65 years and more than four drinks a day or more than 14 a week in men under 65. The excess Alcoholic beverage is defined as four or more drinks in a two-hour period in women and five or more drinks in a two-hour period in men.
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Excessive consumption of alcohol has no benefit. Drinking excessively can increase the risk of serious health problems, including:
- Certain cancers, including breast and mouth cancer, pharynx, larynx, and esophagus
- Sudden death if you have heart disease
- Heart muscle damage (alcoholic cardiomyopathy) that can end up in heart failure
- High blood pressure
- Liver disease
- Serious injury or death
- Brain damage and other problems in unborn children
- Alcohol Abstinence Syndrome
Drink alcohol in moderation, or do not drink
The latest dietary guidelines make it clear that no one should start drinking or drinking more often to get health benefits. So you should not feel pressured to drink alcohol. But if you do and you are healthy, there is probably no need to leave it whenever you drink with responsibility and moderation.