Alcohol and health: Is drinking good or bad for you?

To drink or not to drink, that is… actually No It’s a question most healthy adults should ask. After all, there is general agreement that binge drinking and heavy drinking are bad for your health and life. But there are very mixed messages about the health risks, or benefits, of moderate drinking, based on incomplete research. There are matters. So which is better, a tipple or a teetotal? Here’s what you need to know.

What is “moderate” drinking? And binge drinking?

Moderate drinking means 1 to 4 drinks per day. In this case, one drink is a 5-ounce glass of wine (12 percent alcohol by volume) and a 12-ounce beer (5 percent alcohol, low alcohol content). craft beer), 8 oz of 7% ABV beer, or 1.5 oz of hard liquor (40% ABV). The U.S. Dietary Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise women to have no more than one serving per day for her and two servings per day for men.

Binge drinking is defined by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as drinking four or more times in two hours for women and five times or more in two hours for men. Heavy drinking is drinking 8 or more times a week for women and 15 or more times a week for men.

For the observed rewards of moderate alcohol consumption, “drinking 10 drinks on Friday and Saturday nights communicated the benefits of drinking 2 or 3 drinks daily, even though the totals for the week were the same.” No,” says addiction/public health expert Stanton Peale. , to warn Pacific Standard“It’s unhealthy to drink large amounts of alcohol frequently.” ) is at risk of death from drinking alcohol.

Is it safe to drink alcohol?

“Sorry for the buzzkill, but a glass or two of wine every night isn’t improving your health,” writes Dana G. Smith. new york timesDecades of research have “shown that moderate alcohol consumption has protective health benefits,” says the CDC, but “recent research suggests this may not be true.” The Global Burden of Diseases study, a comprehensive global study published in 2018, suggests that no alcohol is a good alcohol.

The study looked at the effects of alcohol use in 195 countries from 1990 to 2016, analyzing not only disease risk but also accidents, self-harm and other alcohol-related death factors. The potential benefits of moderate drinking to the heart were rated as more important than cancer and other diseases. “Our results indicate that the safest level of drinking is zero,” the report said. This is inconsistent with most health guidelines that support

Some countries have paid attention. New Canadian guidelines released by the Canadian Center for Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) in January recommend no more than two drinks per week, and less is better. The message is that any amount of alcohol is not good for your health,” Erin Hobin, a senior scientist at the Ontario Public Health Service and member of the expert panel that developed the guidelines, told BBC News. “And if you drink, less is better.”

Scientists now believe that alcohol damages DNA through the production of acetaldehyde, “a chemical that is toxic to cells,” writes Smith. Times“Recent studies have found that even moderate amounts of alcohol consumption slightly increase the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.”Alcohol is also a direct cause of seven different cancers, including breast and colorectal cancer. is known to be

Still, not everyone agrees that this means you should avoid alcohol altogether. It often downplays other considerations of alcohol-induced health and well-being. We are not just machines with chemical and nutritive inputs and outputs.We actually exist in a social space.It has a huge impact on our health.”

David Spiegelhalter, Winton professor in charge of public understanding of risk at the University of Cambridge, said: “Given the pleasures possibly associated with moderate drinking, the argument that there is no ‘safe’ level does not seem to be an argument for abstinence. “There is no safe level for driving, but the government does not recommend that people avoid driving. I do not recommend it.”

Is it okay if I don’t drink?

The CDC recommends abstaining from alcohol, and if you must drink alcohol, it says, “Drinking less is better for your health than drinking more.” But some studies suggest that moderate drinkers live longer than nondrinkers and heavy drinkers, says the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. There is

There are hundreds of such studies, suggesting that “the more you drink — up to two drinks a day for women and up to four for men — the less likely you are to die.” Pacific Standard Back in 2014, bringing this up “evokes greater outcry…but that’s exactly what the evidence tells us.”

In fact, Peale added that there is “irrefutable” evidence that abstinence leads to health hazards, including heart disease and premature death. It’s information on which to base decisions, and not the kind that public health advocates would drive away for their own enjoyment. Hmm.)”

Meanwhile, the CDC refutes suggestions that moderate drinking is good for you. Because it is “impossible” to know whether the perceived health benefits are due to alcohol itself, lifestyle behaviors, or genetics. The Bowles Center for Alcohol Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill also says the reasons behind this correlation are “not clear.”

Is wine better than beer or liqueur?

“In 1991, a CBS news program 60 minutes UNC’s Bowles Center published an article called the “French Paradox” that suggests that drinking alcohol, or at least red wine, reduces the risk of heart disease. This spread the belief that wine is healthier than other types of alcohol. A glass of red wine a day may have some effect,” says Talling Rieder, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. Guardian“But it’s not beer, it’s not a hard shot. I think people have embraced this idea that alcohol can be beneficial to their health, and they’ve actually done it.”

But in reality, “what you drink (beer or wine) doesn’t seem to matter as much as how you drink it,” reports Harvard University’s School of Public Health. As for health benefits, “Previous studies have shown that alcohol raises HDL, or ‘good’ cholesterol, and that resveratrol, an antioxidant found in grapes (and red wine), has heart-protective properties.” has been suggested,” Smith wrote. Times.

“Don’t start with resveratrol, an antioxidant-based supplement found in red grape skins. grouse peel.”It is simply a way to avoid recognizing that alcohol is good for you, by claiming that the benefits of alcohol are due to other ingredients.” A study from Johns Hopkins University finally confirmed that “resveratrol does not have a significant impact on lifespan or heart disease.” am.

How can I practice moderate drinking?

Heavy drinking surged during the COVID-19 pandemic — especially among young adults aged 25 to 34, with more women than men, as was alcohol-related liver disease — “but Many people have found new ways to curb their drinking,” said Anahad. O’Connor wrote: new york timesSome are using sobriety tracking apps, while others are seeking counseling and accountability from loved ones.

Develop a weekly drinking plan that includes the days you can drink and how much you consume, or “rules for slowing down drinking,” such as drinking a glass of water between each alcoholic beverage or limiting yourself to one drink per hour. “Some people drink more out of habit than out of their actual craving for alcohol. Instead of their usual drink, try sparkling water or another drink, such as tea or tea.” Try sparkling water.”

“Mocktails and other non-alcoholic beverages are booming in America.” Washington Post “Two studies of households in Spain and the UK found that introducing alcohol-free and low-alcohol alternatives slightly reduced consumer drinking.” “Overall drinking has decreased, but not dramatically,” said Jürgen Rehm of the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.

So should you be a drinker or a teetotaler?

According to Harvard’s School of Public Health, humans have been claiming the “pros and cons” of alcohol consumption “for some 10,000 years” by consuming fermented beverages. It depends on quantity. “Moderate drinking appears to be good for the heart and circulatory system and possibly protects against type 2 diabetes and gallstones. Excessive drinking is the leading cause of preventable death.”

To further complicate things, the Harvard University team reported that “the benefits and risks of moderate drinking change over the course of a lifetime.” “In general, the risks outweigh the benefits until middle age, when cardiovascular disease accounts for an increasingly greater proportion of the burden of morbidity and mortality.” Then blanket recommendations about alcohol are out of the question. ”

“You can live longer if you drink less,” says Dr. Tim Naimi, director of the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at the University of Victoria. Times“That’s basically what it boils down to.”

Drink for your health or not! — as you see fit. Knowing is half the battle.

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