Health Risks And Benefits Of Alcohol Consumption

In people who have already been diagnosed with cancer, alcohol intake could also affect the risk of developing a new cancer. You can help reduce your risk of cancer by making healthy choices like eating right, staying active and not smoking. It’s also important to follow recommended screening guidelines, which can help detect certain cancers early. “There is some evidence that modest alcohol intake has vascular properties that could be beneficial. So, you know, consuming alcohol with friends, family, etcetera may well have a benefit,” Woods said. The simple reason drinking wine is bad for your health is actually nothing to do with wine, just the alcohol contained within the wine. By making the easy switch to alcohol-free wine, you’re able to escape this, yet at the same time have a glass of wine whenever you want.

is alcohol good for you

In the Nurses’ Health Study, the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, and other studies, gallstones and type 2 diabetes were less likely to occur in moderate drinkers than in non-drinkers. Alcohol interacts in potentially dangerous ways with a variety of medications, including acetaminophen, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, painkillers, and sedatives. It is also addictive, especially for people with a family history of alcoholism. The definition of moderate drinking is something of a balancing act. Moderate drinking sits at the point at which the health benefits of alcohol clearly outweigh the risks. In some studies, the term “moderate drinking” refers to less than 1 drink per day, while in others it means 3-4 drinks per day. In fact, even among alcohol researchers, there’s no universally accepted standard drink definition.

Here’s Why Moderate Drinking Is Probably Not Good For You

The links between cigarettes and cancer are frequently reported, but less commonly known is the link between alcohol and cancer. Research has shown that drinking one bottle of wine per week is the equivalent of five or ten cigarettes per week . This equates to an increased absolute lifetime cancer risk of is alcohol good for you 1% and 1.4% . Heavy drinking, on the other hand, is linked to a number of poor health outcomes, including heart conditions. Excessive alcohol intake can lead to high blood pressure, heart failure or stroke. Excessive drinking can also contribute tocardiomyopathy, a disorder that affects the heart muscle.

  • Alcohol use plays a role in many social activities, from the “business lunch” and parties to special occasions.
  • The contents of this website are for educational purposes and are not intended to offer personal medical advice.
  • Harmful use of alcohol is one of the leading risk factors for the global burden of disease.
  • Two persons exposed to alcohol in exactly the same way may or may not have the same outcome for many reasons, including genetic differences, personality, behavioral features, and environment.

In pregnant women, alcohol use, especially heavy drinking, may lead to birth defects or other problems with the fetus. Alcohol can raise the levels of estrogen, a hormone important in the growth and development of breast tissue.

First, let’s address some typical objections to these findings. Of course, abstainers may not drink because they are already ill. Thus the meta-analysis relied on studies that eliminated subjects who are abstaining due to illness, or else contrast drinkers with lifetime abstainers. Additionally, objectors note, drinkers showing such longevity may be wine-sniffling, upper-middle-class professionals , people who exercise, eat right, and don’t smoke. The experts on the Harvard University trial said that there were other factors at play too.

Summary: 10 Health Benefits Of Alcohol

“We have to clarify that alcohol is, indeed, a poison. So we’re not trying to say alcohol itself is healthy,” says Megan Kober, a registered dietitian with Metabolism Makeovers. “But research has shown that having a drink or two a day can actually have some protective heart health benefits and in my opinion, it’s because it helps us relax.”

So, Leyla says, “Any compound that protects cells will improve all function – including brain function.” Researchers have well-documented the aphrodisiac effect of alcohol with evidence on both male and female responses. But with concerns over core issues like consent, it’s important to know about alcohol consumption impacts sex. “Red wine alone, with no other changes, is more likely to increase the chances of chronic disease. This is because you would be consuming more negatives than positives. Like all good things, moderation is key.” There are some properties in certain types of alcohol that make it better than others, though.

  • Excessive alcohol intake can lead to high blood pressure, heart failure or stroke.
  • It is important to remember, however, that although studies do suggest fewer cardiovascular deaths in people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol, no study has ever shown for sure that this is a cause-and-effect relationship.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that past studies have found moderate alcohol consumption can have health benefits, such as reducing the risk for heart disease.
  • This may be in part because small amounts of alcohol can raise your HDL (“good” cholesterol) levels.
  • In 2016, researchers suggested red wine could reduce the risk of heart disease through its effects on the gut microbiome.
  • HDL helps clean the body by removing LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol.

A new analysis finds little benefit for people who are already enrolled in a weight loss intervention. Here are the best and worst types of alcohol to drink if you’rewatching your weight.

What Is Alcohol?

At the other end of the spectrum, more than moderate levels of alcohol consumption are likely to harm the heart. One study, for example, showed that several biomarkers in the blood of heavy drinkers were elevated compared to non-drinkers, indicating a pathological effect on the cardiovascular system. Somewhere in the transition from moderate to heavy drinking, alcohol loses its potential cardioprotective effect and becomes a cardiovascular toxin, capable of increasing the risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. However, for many years, experts believed that drinking small amounts of alcohol boosts adult health. Some studies suggested that a few glasses of wine every week might reduce the risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease – a common cause of memory loss and dementia. However, many factors can offset any possible benefits, and other researchers have reached contradictory findings. Studies investigating the health effects of alcohol vary in their definitions of “low,” “moderate,” and “heavy” drinking.

For example, gin and vodka have fewer histamines in them than beer or cider. This makes them a great alternative for hay fever sufferers – but they’re not going to fix the problem itself. However, whether alcohol can really be heart-healthy is still debated, and it’s likely better to indulge in other antioxidant-rich treats like dark chocolate. Research on mice shows that consuming the agave tequila plant can increase calcium absorption and improve bone health. However, for humans, it’s doubtful that drinking tequila can actually help treat calcium deficiency or bone conditions like osteoporosis. If you do drink, there are healthy alcohol choices you can make.

Blood Pressure

These include reduced risk of cancer, lower blood pressure, good for weight loss, improved sleep and many more. According to a 2021 Gallup poll, 54% of men list beer as their favorite alcoholic beverage, versus 23% of women. Bonding with other men over a beer is part of the male culture, and the growth of craft breweries in recent decades has helped to ensure there are varieties for every palate. Men who love their beer also take heart when occasional studies point to the potential health benefits of drinking moderate amounts of beer.

In the U.S., alcohol is implicated in about half of fatal traffic accidents. Heavy drinking can damage the liver and heart, harm an unborn child, increase the chances of developing breast and some other cancers, contribute to depression and violence, and interfere with relationships. Too much alcohol can add extra calories to the diet, which can contribute to weight gain in some people. Being overweight or obese is known to increase the risks of many types of cancer. Both the volume of lifetime alcohol use and a combination of context, frequency of alcohol consumption and amount consumed per occasion increase the risk of the wide range of health and social harms.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide guidance on the health risks of drinking too much alcohol.
  • The information on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice.
  • Healthy OilsUse healthy oils for cooking, on salad, and at the table.
  • For a 30-year-old man, the increased risk of alcohol-related accidents outweighs the possible heart-related benefits of moderate alcohol consumption.
  • One potential reason for this is that alcohol raises the level of so-called “good” or HDL cholesterol.
  • All of these experiences can lead to unnecessary levels of stress and can have a long term impact on your wellbeing.

In 1920, following passage of the Constitution’s 18th Amendment, the federal government prohibited the making, shipping and sale of alcoholic beverages. Prohibition, as this time was known, responded in large part to concerns that drinking caused family strife, as well as other reasons like reducing worker productivity. Dealcoholized red wine decreases systolic and diastolic blood pressure and increases plasma nitric oxide. Drinking red wine in moderation may reduce the risk of some chronic disease, as discussed above, so it follows that it may help people to live longer. Researchers need to complete more studies to work out the complex effects of moderate red wine intake on liver health. However, a moderate intake of red wine has links with good liver health in some contexts.


Resveratrol appears to underlie many of the health benefits of red wine. A 2017 review reports that resveratrol has protective effects against cancer in both human and laboratory studies. The mechanisms include preventing cell proliferation and tumor growth, inducing cell death in cancer cells, and inhibiting metastasis. A 2015 review reports that resveratrol may help protect against secondary brain damage after a stroke or central nervous system injury. This is due to its positive effects on inflammation, oxidative stress, and cell death. It is important, however, to note that drinking too much alcohol can cause high blood pressure and arrhythmia, or an irregular heart rhythm. The following sections take a closer look at the possible health benefits of red wine.

Scientists aren’t sure why exactly, but it might be that a drink or two helps your body deal with high blood sugar levels in a healthy way. Intimacy helps you deal with stress, and a little alcohol may move things along. In one study, women who had one or two glasses of red wine a day said they had more desire, arousal, and sexual satisfaction than those who didn’t. A drink also may help raise a man’s testosterone levels, which makes both men and women friskier. But men who drink too much can lose the desire and the ability to have sex. There are some cases during cancer treatment in which alcohol clearly should be avoided.

But, physicians caution that it’s all too easy to cross over the fine line into heavy consumption, which carries many significant health risks. A 3 oz serving of dry vermouth contains 105 calories, according to MedlinePlus. And while you’ll generally find it mixed into a martini or a Manhattan, you can save calories by sipping it neat. The reasonable calorie count isn’t the only reason to reach for it. Some researchhas found dry vermouth contains significantly more polyphenols than white wine.

It is also important to note that the apparent benefits of moderate drinking on CHD mortality are offset at higher drinking levels by increased risk of death from other types of heart disease, cancer, liver cirrhosis, and trauma. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, have defined moderate drinking as one drink per day or less for women and two or fewer drinks per day for men . In addition, the NIAAA further recommends that people aged 65 and older limit their consumption of alcohol to one drink per day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that past studies have found moderate alcohol consumption can have health benefits, such as reducing the risk for heart disease.

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