Is Alcohol Toxic?

Is Alcohol Toxic
Alcohol has considerable toxic effects on the digestive and cardiovascular systems. Alcoholic beverages are classified as carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and increase the risk of several cancer types.

How much alcohol is toxic to humans?

– Generally, once your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.40 percent or over, it’s dangerous territory. At this level, there’s a risk of coma or death. If your BAC is between 0.08 and 0.40 percent, you’re likely to be very impaired and have symptoms like:


Keep in mind that in most places, 0.08 percent is the point at which you’re legally considered intoxicated.

Is alcohol safe to drink?

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 Is Alcohol Toxic
  • 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.
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  • : Dietary Guidelines for Alcohol

    Is 100% alcohol poisonous?

    Overdosing on Rubbing Alcohol: Can You Die from Drinking It? – For someone who wants to get drunk as fast as possible, yes, isopropyl alcohol will do the trick. According to the NCBI, “nearly 80 percent is absorbed within 30 minutes of ingestion.” The effects kick in rapidly.

    Odds are high that the individual won’t only get drunk on this dangerously toxic beverage, they’ll black out and possibly even die. According to, “The approximate lethal dose of 90 to 100 percent isopropanol for human adults is only 250 milliliters, or about 8 ounces.” Eight ounces. To put it in perspective: the average shot glass is 1.5 ounces.

    A can of Coke is 12 ounces. Ingesting only eight ounces of rubbing alcohol can kill you. If a person drinks even a small amount and has any of the above-mentioned side effects, call 911—medical attention is necessary immediately, Do not induce vomiting.

    The caustic nature of rubbing alcohol can cause chemical burns to the esophagus. If rubbing alcohol was inhaled, move to fresh air. If the substance is on the skin, flush with water. Before calling 911, know the person’s age, weight and condition; name of the product; time it was swallowed and how much was swallowed.

    Under no circumstances is rubbing alcohol intended for consumption. It is not a substitute for alcohol, wine or beer. It is toxic. If you suspect someone has isopropyl alcohol poisoning—whether by accident or on purpose (desperation, experimentation)—call 911 and the American Association of Poison Control at,

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    Why is tequila healthy?

    Is Tequila Healthy? Will a shot of tequila a day keep the doctor away? Tequila, at least the good kind made from 100% agave, has been linked to weight loss, lower cholesterol and lower blood sugar. To tequila lovers, this sounds like a dream come true, but these claims aren’t so sound when you dive into the research behind them.

    Read on to find out if tequila is really the magical elixir people want to make it out to be. What Kind of Tequila Are We Talking About Here? Sorry folks, this isn’t that cheap tequila you drink in your college days! If the tequila isn’t labeled 100% agave, it’s probably mixed with non-agave sugars including cane sugar.

    Tequila — the good stuff — that is labeled “100 Percent Agave,” “100 Percent Blue Agave” or “100 Percent Agave Azul,” is loosely thought to lower blood sugar and triglyceride levels – blood fat levels associated with heart disease. (For more info on tequila and how it’s made, head over to our story,) It’s believed that a compound found in the agave plant called agavin is responsible for these health benefits.

    Agavins are a natural form of the fructose sugar called fructans. The touch of conducted on rodents shows that fructans from the Agave tequilana plant (the base ingredient in tequila) help decrease weight gain by and lowering high blood sugar. However, in reviewing the research you’ll find that the fructans are administered to the rodents in an isolated or supplemental form.

    These rodents aren’t given shots of tequila! Should We Be Doing Shots of Tequila? Media outlets are picking up these studies and grossly exaggerating the health benefits. “Because it comes from a plant, there may be bioactive ingredients; however research has not shown any additional benefits,” according to Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RDN, Director of Nutrition,,

    • Zelman says that the known benefits of alcohol come from the ethanol when consumed within recommended guidelines.
    • Studies have shown that alcoholic beverages in general when consumed in moderation may confer potential health benefits such as decreased risk of coronary artery disease, ischemic stroke, and type 2 diabetes, and improve cognition and rheumatoid arthritis in the elderly,” Dr.
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    Sam Zakhari, SVP for Science at the Distilled Spirits Council and formerly a Division Director at the National Institutes of Health explains. “Tequila is no exception because these effects are due to the alcohol content of these beverages.” However, Zakhari says no one should be encouraged to drink alcohol for potential health benefits.

    1. More isn’t better when it comes to tequila – or alcohol in general.
    2. Alcohol consumed in moderation may impart health benefits,” explains Zakhari.
    3. However consumed in excess, such as binge drinking, or chronic heavy drinking it may be harmful to health.” When It Comes to Tequila, What’s Moderation? U.S.

    Dietary guidelines define moderate drinking, which is associated with potential benefits, as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. A drink is defined as 12 fluid ounces of beer (5% alcohol), 5 fluid ounces of wine (12% alcohol) or 1.5 fluid ounces of spirits (40% alcohol).

    But it gets more complicated when you look at the alcohol by volume (or % ABV). Standard tequila is 80-proof or 40% ABV, where 1.5 fluid ounces is a drink equivalent. “If you choose a higher or lower than the standard 80-proof tequila, the definition of one drink equivalent changes,” explains Zelman. Looking at the proof or % ABV is important when determining how much alcohol you should be consuming.

    What About Mixers? There is some buzz that the best way to consume tequila is mixed with juice or other beverages. “Keep in mind, mixers can add substantial calories, so it is best to mix your tequila with 100% fruit or vegetable juice, sparkling water or low calorie mixers,” says Zelman.

    Case in point: a margarita – some of those oversized glasses of the cocktail weigh in at over 600 calories and contain loads of added sugar. Bottom Line: More research is needed to determine if the components of the agave plant used to make tequila have health benefits, specifically in humans. In the meantime, science does back up the potential health benefits of spirits which can be attributed to the alcohol.

    Whether you choose to drink tequila, rum, vodka, or any other spirit, you should do so in moderation. Related Content: : Is Tequila Healthy?

    What happens if you drink 100% ethanol?

    At high levels it can cause inebriation. Ingesting ethanol can cause mood changes, slower reaction time, uncoordinated movements, slurred speech and nausea. Higher exposures may cause blurred vision, confusion and disorientation, movement problems, vomiting and sweating.

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