There are decades of research to support this idea, at least as it applies broadly to society at large, Dr. Stockwell adds. But how this applies to each of us as individuals is much more nuanced, with the potential risks and benefits of alcohol consumption influenced in large part by our distinct life circumstances and unique medical histories. “I think it unlikely that any level of alcohol consumption has net health benefits,” says Tim Stockwell, PhD, a substance use researcher and professor emeritus in the department of psychology at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.
On the flip side, the more you exercise, the more likely you are to drink now and then. For younger people, the three leading causes of death linked to alcohol use were tuberculosis, road injuries and self-harm, according to the study. Drinking alcohol was also a leading cause of cancer for people older than 50.
Even light alcohol consumption — up to one drink per day — is linked to a 20% increased risk of mouth and throat cancer (59, 60). In the Nurses’ Health Study, the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, and other studies, gallstones [40, 41] and type 2 diabetes [32, 42, 43] were less likely to occur in moderate drinkers than in non-drinkers. However, a prospective study following almost 15,000 men at four-year periods found only an increased risk of minor weight gain with higher intakes of alcohol.  Compared to those who did not change their alcohol intake, those who increased their intake by 2 or more drinks a day gained a little more than a half-pound. It was noted that calorie intake (not from alcohol) tended to increase along with alcohol intake. Certain types of alcohol have a higher carbohydrate count, which can mess with blood sugar management.
Is it better to not drink alcohol?
But, as drinking even at low levels increases the risk of these diseases, deciding to stop drinking completely is a positive choice. Drinking alcohol also causes other long-term health problems. Stopping drinking lowers the risk of: Heart disease, stroke10 and high blood pressure.
There is some evidence that moderate amounts of alcohol might help to slightly raise levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. Researchers have also suggested that red wine, in particular, might protect the heart, thanks to the antioxidants it contains. And the meta-analysis published in JAMA Network Open that involved 107 studies with more than 4.8 million participants also found no longevity benefit for drinkers. This research showed that people who have one or two drinks a day have essentially the same https://ecosoberhouse.com/article/alcohol-abuse-and-narcissism-how-are-they-linked/ risk of dying prematurely as people who’ve never had alcohol. You can make a weekly drinking plan with days you can drink and amounts to consume, or you can “set up rules to slow your drinking,” like drinking a glass of water between each alcoholic beverage or limiting yourself to a drink an hour, O’Connor suggests. “Some people drink more out of habit than an actual desire for alcohol. Try substituting sparkling water or another beverage for your usual drink,” like tea or sparkling water.
Is wine better than beer or liquor?
Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks within two hours for women and five or more drinks within two hours for men. Moderate alcohol use has possible health benefits, but it’s not risk-free. Throughout the 10,000 or so years that humans have been drinking fermented beverages, they’ve also been arguing about their merits and demerits.
- However, the potential benefits do not outweigh the risks of alcohol consumption.
- Light to moderate drinking is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, while heavy drinking appears to increase the risk (37, 38, 39, 40).
- Alcohol dependence is one of the main causes of alcohol abuse and disability in the US and a strong risk factor for various diseases (70).
- Booze is a staple at Friday happy hours or boozy brunches or toasts to mark big milestones like graduations or weddings or promotions.
That said, consuming high amounts does not provide greater health benefits. Heavy drinking causes health problems — regardless of the type of beverage. Moderate alcohol consumption may increase life expectancy, while alcohol abuse is a strong risk factor for premature death. In heavy drinkers, binge drinking may cause your liver to become inflamed. In worst-case scenarios, liver cells die and get replaced with scar tissue, leading to a serious condition called cirrhosis (3, 6, 7). Globally, the WHO European Region has the highest alcohol consumption level and the highest proportion of drinkers in the population.
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In fact, your overall diabetes risk tends to drop with moderate alcohol consumption. However, when it comes to heavy drinking and binge drinking, your risk rises (53, 54, 55, 56). Heavy drinking and beer are linked to increased weight gain, while light to moderate drinking and wine are linked to reduced weight gain. In general, risks exceed benefits until middle age, when cardiovascular disease begins to account for an increasingly large share of the burden of disease and death. Another major caveat to most research into the health effects of alcohol is that the vast majority of these studies aren’t controlled experiments designed to prove whether alcohol directly causes specific positive or negative medical outcomes.
However, eating a healthy diet and being physically active have much greater health benefits and have been more extensively studied. Loose use of the terms “moderate” and “a drink” has fueled some of the ongoing debate about alcohol’s impact on health. Ashton also noted though that the data is “crystal is alcohol good for you clear” that abstaining completely from alcohol is best for a person’s overall health. “When you talk about risk versus benefit, it’s one thing to say there is no benefit,” said Dr. Jennifer Ashton, a board-certified OB-GYN and ABC News chief medical correspondent, who was not involved in the research.
Ways Alcohol Is Legitimately Healthy
One of its main roles is to neutralize various toxic substances you consume. For this reason, your liver is particularly vulnerable to damage by alcohol intake (3). Learn more about the results of some large prospective cohort studies of alcohol consumption and cardiovascular disease. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure (HBP or hypertension), your doctor may advise you to reduce the amount of alcohol you drink. For many of us, alcohol is an automatic part of the social events that punctuate our lives.
But actually, “what you drink (beer or wine) doesn’t seem to be nearly as important as how you drink,” Harvard’s public health school reports. In terms of health benefits, “past research suggested that alcohol raises HDL, the ‘good’ cholesterol, and that resveratrol, an antioxidant found in grapes (and red wine), has heart-protective properties,” Smith writes at the Times. In fact, Peele added, there is “irrefutable” evidence that abstaining from drinking entirely is linked to health detriments like heart disease and premature death. However, some kombucha makers are now producing hard kombucha, which has an alcohol content similar to beer or hard seltzer. Regular kombucha has some health benefits, including reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and aiding in digestion.
Brain Health and Moderate Drinking
Fermented alcoholic beverages, such as beer and wine, contain polyphenols such as resveratrol. Moderate alcohol consumption has some potential benefits for the body, but these do not outweigh the risks of alcohol consumption. A pre-existing condition could also interact with alcohol to affect your health. For example, “people who have hypertension probably should not drink or definitely drink at very, very low levels,” Dr. Piano said. Moderate drinkers are far more likely to exercise than people who don’t drink.
A little inebriation could get the juices flowing, but don’t chug an entire handle of vodka in hopes of painting the next Mona Lisa. Beer and wine have natural antioxidants called phenols, which help protect against heart disease and lower the risk of hypertension. Just stick to moderate consumption—keg stands will not translate into even healthier hearts. Alcohol doesn’t make a lot of “Top 10” lists for being one of the healthiest things to put in our bodies. But alcohol in all of its common forms—beer, wine, liquor—actually has some unexpected health benefits like strong hearts, sharper brains, and uninhibited creativity.
Does Alcohol Protect Against Heart Problems?
As with many other health outcomes from alcohol consumption, the picture is mixed when it comes to the link between obesity and moderate drinking. Similarly, a meta-analysis of data from 34 studies with more than one million participants also found a survival benefit to moderate drinking. In this analysis, men who consumed up to four drinks a day were up to 17 percent less likely to die prematurely, while women who consumed up to two drinks daily had an 18 percent lower risk of premature death. In study after study, people who drink in moderation tend to be really different from both teetotalers and heavy drinkers — moderate drinkers are typically wealthier, healthier, better educated, and living in more affluent communities. And both people who abstain and those who binge are typically poorer, less educated, and more apt to have a history of substance use issues or chronic health problems than moderate drinkers.
- This kind of study design creates many biases that make it challenging to show cause and effect, leading to shakier results that can’t be fully relied on.
- Wealthier people are less likely to smoke, and they tend to live longer.
- Recommendations for alcohol intake are usually based on the number of standard drinks per day.
- Moderate drinking seems to be good for the heart and circulatory system, and probably protects against type 2 diabetes and gallstones.
Here, over 200 million people in the Region are at risk of developing alcohol-attributable cancer. It doesn’t matter how much you drink – the risk to the drinker’s health starts from the first drop of any alcoholic beverage. 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.
Can alcohol be good for your health?
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.