Are There Any Benefits To Drinking Alcohol?

Are There Any Benefits To Drinking Alcohol
Pros and cons of moderate alcohol use – Moderate alcohol consumption may provide some health benefits, such as:

  • Reducing your risk of developing and dying of heart disease
  • Possibly reducing your risk of ischemic stroke (when the arteries to your brain become narrowed or blocked, causing severely reduced blood flow)
  • Possibly reducing your risk of diabetes

However, eating a healthy diet and being physically active have much greater health benefits and have been more extensively studied. Keep in mind that even moderate alcohol use isn’t risk-free. For example, even light drinkers (those who have no more than one drink a day) have a tiny, but real, increased risk of some cancers, such as esophageal cancer.

How much alcohol is healthy?

Dietary Guidelines for Alcohol

  • Alcohol consumption is associated with a variety of short- and long-term health risks, including motor vehicle crashes, violence, sexual risk behaviors, high blood pressure, and various cancers (e.g., breast cancer).1
  • The risk of these harms increases with the amount of alcohol you drink. For some conditions, like some cancers, the risk increases even at very low levels of alcohol consumption (less than 1 drink).2,3
  • To reduce the risk of alcohol-related harms, the recommends that adults of legal drinking age can choose not to drink, or to drink in moderation by limiting intake to 2 drinks or less in a day for men or 1 drink or less in a day for women, on days when alcohol is consumed.4 The Guidelines also do not recommend that individuals who do not drink alcohol start drinking for any reason and that if adults of legal drinking age choose to drink alcoholic beverages, drinking less is better for health than drinking more.4 Are There Any Benefits To Drinking Alcohol
  • Two in three adult drinkers report drinking above moderate levels at least once a month.5

The Guidelines note that some people should not drink alcohol at all, such as:

  • If they are pregnant or might be pregnant.
  • If they are younger than age 21.
  • If they have certain medical conditions or are taking certain medications that can interact with alcohol.
  • If they are recovering from an alcohol use disorder or if they are unable to control the amount they drink.4

The Guidelines also note that not drinking alcohol also is the safest option for women who are lactating. Generally, moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages by a woman who is lactating (up to 1 standard drink in a day) is not known to be harmful to the infant, especially if the woman waits at least 2 hours after a single drink before nursing or expressing breast milk.

  • The Guidelines note, “Emerging evidence suggests that even drinking within the recommended limits may increase the overall risk of death from various causes, such as from several types of cancer and some forms of cardiovascular disease. Alcohol has been found to increase risk for cancer, and for some types of cancer, the risk increases even at low levels of alcohol consumption (less than 1 drink in a day).” 4
  • Although past studies have indicated that moderate alcohol consumption has protective health benefits (e.g., reducing risk of heart disease), recent studies show this may not be true.6-12 While some studies have found improved health outcomes among moderate drinkers, it’s impossible to conclude whether these improved outcomes are due to moderate alcohol consumption or other differences in behaviors or genetics between people who drink moderately and people who don’t.6-12
  • Most U.S. adults who drink don’t drink every day.13 That’s why it’s important to focus on the amount people drink on the days that they drink. Even if women consume an average of 1 drink per day or men consume an average of 2 drinks per day, increases the risk of experiencing alcohol-related harm in the short-term and in the future.14
  • Drinking at levels above the moderate drinking guidelines significantly increases the risk of short-term harms, such as injuries, as well as the risk of long-term chronic health problems, such as some types of cancer.1,15,16
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention., Accessed April 18, 2022.
  2. Di Castelnuovo A, Costanzo S, Bagnardi V, Donati M, Iacoviello L, de Gaetano G., Arch Intern Med 2006;166(22):2437-45.
  3. Rehm J, Shield K. Alcohol consumption. In: Stewart BW, Wild CB, eds., Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2014
  4. U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.,9th Edition, Washington, DC; 2020.
  5. Henley SJ, Kanny D, Roland KB, et al., Alcohol Alcohol 2014;49(6):661-7.
  6. Chikritzhs T, Fillmore K, Stockwell T., Drug Alcohol Rev 2009;28:441–4.
  7. Andréasson S, Chikritzhs T, Dangardt F, Holder H, Naimi T, Stockwell T., In: Alcohol and Society 2014, Stockholm: IOGT-NTO & Swedish Society of Medicine, 2014.
  8. Knott CS, Coombs N, Stamatakis E, Biddulph JP., BMJ 2015;350:h384.
  9. Holmes MV, Dale CE, Zuccolo L, et al. BMJ 2014;349:g4164
  10. Naimi TS, Brown DW, Brewer RD, et al., Am J Prev Med 2005;28(4):369–73.
  11. Rosoff DB, Davey Smith G, Mehta N, Clarke TK, Lohoff FW., PLoS Med 2020;17:e1003410.
  12. Biddinger KJ, Emdin CA, Haas ME, et al., JAMA Netw Open 2022;5(3):e223849.
  13. Naimi TS., J Stud Alcohol Drug 2011;72:687.
  14. Holahan CJ, Holahan CK, Moos RH., Am J Prev Med 2022 (in press);10.1016.
  15. Vinson DC, Maclure M, Reidinger C, Smith GS. J Stud Alcohol Drugs 2003;64:358-66.
  16. Nelson DE, Jarman DW, Rehm J, et al. Am J Public Health 2013;103(4):641-8.
  • : Dietary Guidelines for Alcohol

    Is no amount of alcohol good for you?

    New guidelines warn that ‘no amount’ of alcohol is healthy – CCSA on Tuesday released updated guidelines on alcohol consumption. Previously, Canadian health officials advised women to consume no more than 10 drinks in a seven-day period and advised men to consume no more than 15.

    Now, CCSA’s guidelines outline a “continuum of risk” associated with alcohol consumption. “The experts who developed the guidelines said the new approach builds on growing evidence, after decades of sometimes conflicting research, that even small amounts of alcohol can have serious health consequences,” Levenson writes.

    Recent suggests that consuming a small amount of alcohol can slightly increase a person’s risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. However, the risk increases significantly for individuals who drink excessive amounts of alcohol. In the guidelines, CCSA defines a standard drink as a 12-ounce bottle of beer that is 5% alcohol, a five-ounce glass of wine that is 12% alcohol, or a 1.5-ounce shot glass that is 40% alcohol.

    According to CCSA, the risk is “low” for people who consume no more than two standard drinks each week. It is “moderate” for people who consume three to six standard drinks each week, and “increasingly high” for people who consume seven or more standard drinks each week. “Research shows that no amount or kind of alcohol is good for your health,” the report states.

    “It doesn’t matter what kind of alcohol it is — wine, beer, cider or spirits. Drinking alcohol, even a small amount, is damaging to everyone, regardless of age, sex, gender, ethnicity, tolerance for alcohol or lifestyle. That’s why if you drink, it’s better to drink less.” According to Catherine Paradis, interim associate director of research at CCSA, consumption of just two drinks per week has been associated with an increased risk of seven kinds of cancer—including breast and colon cancer—and cardiovascular disease.

    See also:  Does Alcohol Increase Blood Sugar?

    In addition, Paradis, who co-chaired the panel that created the new guidelines, noted that the World Health Organization recently said the risks associated with alcohol consumption had been “systematically evaluated over the years and are well documented” and that “when it comes to alcohol consumption, there is no safe amount that does not affect health.” The report noted that any decrease in alcohol consumption can benefit a person’s health.

    “This is true even for those who do not cut their drinking to low or moderate levels,” Levenson writes. “In fact, those consuming high levels of alcohol have much to gain by reducing their consumption by as much as possible.” “We have this line: Drink less, live more,” said Alexander Caudarella, CEO of CCSA.

    Do teetotalers live longer?

    Story highlights – Scientists did a review of 87 studies about health and alcohol They didn’t see the positive health impact some headlines tout There may be a bias in how the studies group drinkers CNN — Now here’s some news that may have you crying into your beer.

    Alcohol, when consumed in moderation, may not improve your health after all. Over the years we’ve all seen the studies that show a glass of wine a day may help protect you from developing heart disease, will help with cancer and keep type 2 diabetes away, and will ultimately help you live longer, But this new research may be a buzz kill for those who like to drink in moderation.

    Toasting to your health may actually be an oxymoron. So, belly up to the bar and we’ll explain what the scientists behind this new meta-analysis running in the latest edition of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs think happened with the earlier studies that show the health benefits of moderate drinking.

    This team of scientists looked at a wide variety of studies on the topic, specifically looking at alcohol’s impact on mortality. Narrowing their list down to 87 studies, the authors found the majority of them may have been coming to conclusions based on what the authors label as “biased” data. It’s not that the other scientists were working under the influence of the industry or something more potent.

    Is Alcohol Good or Bad for You?

    This latest study found that when those other studies divide people into groups they typically put them into common categories: heavy drinkers, moderate drinkers, occasional drinkers and abstainers. What the new study found is that the abstainer group isn’t only made up of people who have never touched a drop.

    • Instead, some in this group may be recovering alcoholics.
    • Some may also be abstaining now because of a health condition.
    • In general, those two groups of people in the abstainer category are not as healthy as those who are lifelong teetotalers, research shows.
    • That means these less healthy people skew the data.

    So, the moderate drinkers end up looking healthier by default. Make sense? Of the 87 studies, 13 did separate out the lifelong abstainers from the former drinkers. The studies that controlled for these sicker people found that moderate drinkers had no health advantage over the true nondrinkers.

    1. When this team reran the data they considered appropriate against other studies, using these much narrower definitions of abstainers, they saw the same results: The moderate drinkers were no better off than the abstainers.
    2. You may be wondering: Why does this matter to anyone other than the scientists who study alcohol? “Alcohol has played such a central part of many people’s lives and is embedded in various occasions and relationships, so there is a lot of interest on this topic,” said co-author Dr.

    Tim Stockwell. “Understanding this question is important as we shape alcohol policy.” Some earlier studies have also chipped away at the idea that there are health benefits to moderate drinking. A study that ran in BMJ last year suggested there was no sign that you lived longer because you drink a little as opposed to abstaining.

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    Other studies have come to different conclusions, showing some benefits. (If you are a heavy drinker, that’s a different story. Your life will likely be shorter.) “Determining how a low dose of alcohol impacts your life is complicated work,” said Aaron White, the senior scientific adviser to the director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

    He said relying on self-reported data, remembering how much you drank a month ago, is difficult. There is a real need for randomized control trials to truly see what impact drinking has on human health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on drinking hedges its bets a little and mentions that recent studies have called the health benefits of drinking into question, while still offering guidance that there could be some protective qualities to drinking.

    1. The guidance adds that you shouldn’t start drinking for your health.
    2. It also suggests essentially that it is impossible to separate the drinking from other components in someone’s life that may make them healthier than others.
    3. That means moderate drinkers may also be watching their diets or be healthier in general and that may lead to a longer life.

    White said there is “considerable” lab data that shows a small amount of alcohol may be beneficial for health in terms of reducing inflammation and helping with cardiovascular health and stroke reduction. To see these effects, however, requires “taking alcohol like you would take medicine, in small doses.” And it would be rare for a doctor in the 20 minutes they have with you in an appointment to give you this nuanced kind of advice.

    Dr. Kenneth Mukamal, who is an associate professor of medicine at Harvard’s School of Public Health who has no affiliation to the study, said he thinks the authors defined the categories of drinkers and nondrinkers too narrowly and that focusing on studies that look strictly at mortality may also be too narrow.

    “At this point we still don’t have the level of proof that we want,” Mukamal said. “This is a little overstated.” To determine if moderate drinking is good or bad for your health will take true clinical trials rather than observational studies, he said.

    Is it OK if I don’t drink alcohol?

    Things to remember if you don’t drink alcohol – In a world where alcohol seems to be omnipresent, it’s important to remember that there is nothing wrong with you for not drinking. Especially if you choose not to drink to overcome addiction or tackle another health problem, you are doing the right thing and it is very brave.

    “It isn’t easy to step out of the ordinary and go against the grain when it’s ingrained in our society that we need to drink. There is pressure to drink to celebrate, to commiserate, to de-stress, when we are tired and even when we are happy. By not drinking, you are stepping out of the norm. While this can be frightening, you are showing yourself and others that you can do everything in life just as they can, without the crutch of a drink,” says Walker.

    She highlights that it takes emotional resilience and mental strength to maintain sobriety and navigate life in all its rawness without alcohol. “But if you are choosing to do that, for whatever reason, you have done really well so far and can continue to do so.

    If you are craving a drink, remember to check in with yourself. Remind yourself of the reasons why you chose this path and, if you’re overcoming an addiction, go easy on yourself. Don’t put pressure on yourself to quit forever immediately, and be sure to communicate your feelings.” She also stresses the importance of practising the appropriate self-care tool for the emotion currently at play, rather than turning to alcohol as a quick solution.

    “If you are tired, then rest. If you are happy, consider how adding alcohol can only numb that feeling. If you are lonely, connect with people who understand what you’re going through. Remember that alcohol is a depressant and it is unlikely to make any of these things better in the long run.”

    Is alcohol good for anxiety?

    How alcohol affects anxiety – Alcohol is a depressant. It slows down processes in your brain and central nervous system, and can initially make you feel less inhibited.10,11 In the short-term, you might feel more relaxed – but these effects wear off quickly.

    Why do I like drinking so much?

    Introduction – Behind only tobacco use and obesity, alcohol use is the third most common lifestyle-related cause of death in the United States ( Mokdad et al., 2004 ). People like to drink alcohol because of its ability to alter emotional states. Alcohol induces euphoria, relaxation, and disinhibition while reducing stress and anxiety.

    1. Consistent with human self-report, animal studies also suggest that alcohol produces a rewarding as well as an anxiolytic effect ( Coop et al., 1990 ; Blanchard et al., 1993 ; Spanagel et al., 1995 ; Da Silva et al., 2005 ).
    2. Although its euphoric and stress-reducing effects have been known for centuries and are intuitively understood, how alcohol changes the function of human brain circuits has been explored only sparingly.
    See also:  Can Alcohol Cause Panic Attack?

    Where might alcohol recruit circuitry that regulates positive affect leading to euphoria? A critical area of interest is the ventral striatum (VS), which is recruited by reward-predictive stimuli ( Knutson et al., 2001 ; Bjork et al., 2004 ). A variety of primary rewards activate this circuit, including fruit juice and water ( Berns et al., 2001 ; O’Doherty et al., 2002 ; Pagnoni et al., 2002 ; McClure et al., 2003 ), as well as secondary rewards such as praise and money (for review, see Knutson and Cooper, 2005 ).

    1. Similarly, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have shown striatal activation in response to drugs of abuse such as cocaine ( Breiter et al., 1997 ) and nicotine ( Stein et al., 1998 ).
    2. Although there have not yet been fMRI studies of the action of alcohol on reward circuits, positron emission tomography (PET) studies demonstrate increased striatal glucose metabolism or blood flow in response to alcohol ( Wang et al., 2000 ; Boileau et al., 2003 ; Schreckenberger et al., 2004 ).

    Accordingly, the mesocorticolimbic reward circuit is important in the development and maintenance of addiction ( Koob et al., 1998 ). How might alcohol affect circuitry that governs negative affect to decrease anxiety? Alcohol-mediated anxiolysis may result from disruption of threat detection circuitry.

    • The amygdala in particular is critical in an attention allocation circuit that is recruited by stimuli that signal the requirement for an immediate behavioral response, such as fight or flight ( LeDoux, 2003 ; Fitzgerald et al., 2006 ).
    • Alcohol intoxication increases the incidence of aggression and social risk taking ( Giancola and Zeichner, 1997 ; Corbin and Fromme, 2002 ; Giancola et al., 2002 ), perhaps by disrupting the amygdala-mediated differentiation between threatening and nonthreatening stimuli.

    Decreased differential response may increase approach while decreasing avoidance, thus facilitating social interaction. The current study was designed to characterize the response of the brain to alcohol intoxication and emotional stimuli, and is the first fMRI study to examine acute pharmacological effects of alcohol on the neural circuitry underlying emotion.

    How much alcohol is healthy per week?

    Low-risk drinking advice – To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level if you drink most weeks:

    men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basisspread your drinking over 3 or more days if you regularly drink as much as 14 units a weekif you want to cut down, try to have several drink-free days each week

    If you’re pregnant or think you could become pregnant, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all to keep risks to your baby to a minimum. Find out more about pregnancy and alcohol

    How many grams of alcohol a day is safe?

    How much alcohol is healthy? Depends where you are Are There Any Benefits To Drinking Alcohol How many drinks is OK? The world disagrees. A recent study from researchers at Stanford University shows that countries have very different ideas about how much alcohol is safe or healthy, and the standards even within a country can be confusing. “”There’s a substantial chance for misunderstanding,” said study co-author Keith Humphreys, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford, in a press release.

    A study of the health effects of low-risk drinking in France could be misinterpreted by researchers in the United States who may use a different definition of drinking levels. Inconsistent guidelines are also likely to increase skepticism among the public about their accuracy. It is not possible that every country is correct; maybe they are all wrong.” The researchers started with the one of the closest things to an international standard: the World Health Organization.

    According to the study, the WHO identifies a standard drink as having 10 grams of pure ethanol — a little more than a third of an ounce. Its guidelines recommend no more than two drinks per day on average for both men and women. But across a pool of 37 countries with national drinking guidelines, the researchers found wide variations in how tall a “standard” drink is, and how many drinks are safe in a day or a week.

    Some countries define a standard drink more liberally than the WHO does. American guidelines consider 14 grams of pure alcohol to be a standard drink, four grams more than the WHO’s definition. But that is just the start.U.S. guidelines say women should consume no more than 42 grams of pure alcohol in a single day day (about three drinks).

    That is double or more than the WHO limit and the daily limits in most other countries on the list. Now consider Vietnam, Poland and France. All three say a standard drink is a more modest 10 grams — in line with WHO recommendations. Standards for men are similarly all over the map, so to speak.

    Austria defines a single standard drink at having 20 grams of pure alcohol — double the WHO standard. But its government suggests men limit their daily maximum to little more than one drink per day, and only about 8½ drinks per week. Malta says anything between 168 and 210 grams a week is acceptable for men.

    American men are advised to have no more than four drinks in a day, they are also advised to have no more than 196 grams of alcohol in a week—about 14 drinks. Some countries might opt for a weekly or a daily limit, but not both. Others, such as Australia do not distinguish between men and women.

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