Moderate drinking: Women and men, alcohol limits, benefits, risks

[19] 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. 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 active ingredient in alcoholic beverages, a simple molecule called ethanol, affects the body in many different ways.

Their work, which included data from 107 studies and over 4.8 million participants, looked at all-cause mortality, a general metric, rather than deaths caused by a particular type of condition. It’s long been known that alcohol reduces the amygdala’s reactivity to threatening stimuli while individuals are drinking. The current study is the first to indicate that light to moderate alcohol consumption has longer-term neurobiological effects in dampening activity in the amygdala, which may have a significant downstream impact on the cardiovascular system. Even when a definition of moderate drinking has been developed, that definition may not apply equally to all people or under all circumstances.

Moderate Drinking Doesn’t Have Health Benefits

One mechanism by which oestrogens could modulate the immune reaction is by regulating cytokine expressionReference Ciesielska39 and reducing pro-inflammatory cytokinesReference Liu, Loo, Palaszynski, Ashouri, Lubahn and Voskuhl40. Combined differences in pharmacokinetics may increase the vulnerability of women to the effects of ethanol. The mechanisms that may underlie these differences could be gender differences in the physiological processing and metabolic clearance of alcohol and differential sensitivity of the nervous system to alcohol. Some researchers have suggested that differences are mainly due to a lower alcohol-dehydrogenase activity in women, rather than to differences in gastric emptying or in the hepatic oxidation of ethanolReference Baraona, Abittan, Dohmen, Moretti, Pozzato, Chayes, Schaefer and Lieber44. Furthermore, there is also evidence implicating the direct involvement of hormones in the gender differences observed regarding alcohol consumption.

  • Survey researchers have discovered that more questions (and consequently more answers) may lead to higher consumption estimates, which are generally considered to be more accurate.
  • Of 107 studies identified, 86 included former drinkers and/or occasional drinkers in the abstainer reference group, and only 21 were free of both these abstainer biases.
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  • Similarly, body water generally decreases and body fat increases with increasing age.

Some surveys may address only alcohol consumption, whereas other surveys may assess all food and other nutrient intake, as well as additional health-related behaviors (e.g., smoking and exercise), and include only a few alcohol-specific questions. In diary methods, participants record each drink consumed over a given timeframe (e.g., 1 week), ideally shortly after consumption. Researchers have recently introduced an automated variation of the diary method. In this approach, participants report their daily alcohol intake by calling a dedicated toll-free number and activating, through a touch-tone telephone, an automated, interactive voice-simulation system (Searles et al. 1995). Traditionally, chronic disease epidemiology has focused on such medical maladies as heart disease and cancer. Data on various chronic illnesses, as opposed to mental disorders, have been gathered since the turn of the century.

How does the combination of alcohol and tobacco affect cancer risk?

One benefit of QF measures is that the analyses sometimes also provide information on drinking patterns. One disadvantage, however, is that respondents, particularly those with irregular drinking patterns, may have difficulty providing accurate answers, because they must mentally average their alcohol consumption over the entire year (Rehm 1998). Understanding the risks and any possible health benefits of alcohol often seems confusing; that’s understandable, because the evidence for moderate alcohol use in healthy adults isn’t certain. But there was one major flaw in many of the studies used to back up the claim that a glass of red wine is good for health. They compared those who drink at moderate levels to people who consume no alcohol whatsoever, rather than comparing those who drink heavily versus at lower levels. The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it important changes in alcohol consumption.

Added sugars can also come in the form of simple syrup or liqueurs, which are common ingredients in many cocktails. But there isn’t any scientific evidence specifically related to alcohol consumption and diabetes. The flavonoids and other antioxidants in wine can protect the heart and blood vessels from the damaging effects of free oxygen radicals produced by the body. This is particularly true for diabetics because they have been shown to have a high production of free oxygen radicals.

When to avoid alcohol

Researchers also found that within the entire group of participants, light to moderate drinking was linked to greater decreases in major cardiovascular events for people with a history of anxiety, compared to others. In his view, the idea of alcohol as being a healthy choice came about because in previous studies the definition of total abstainers used in studies likely included people who had already felt the effects of high alcohol consumption. Alcohol is a toxic, psychoactive, and dependence-producing substance and has been classified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer decades ago – this is the highest risk group, which also includes asbestos, radiation
and tobacco. Alcohol causes at least seven types of cancer, including the most common cancer types, such as bowel cancer and female breast cancer. Ethanol (alcohol) causes cancer through biological mechanisms as the compound breaks down in the body,
which means that any beverage containing alcohol, regardless of its price and quality, poses a risk of developing cancer. In the U.S., 1 drink is usually considered to be 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of spirits (hard liquor such as gin or whiskey).

Here’s what you need to know about drinking, and how its alleged health benefits aren’t all that legitimate. People filled out a survey at the time of enrollment, which included a question about their alcohol consumption during the prior year. Moderate drinking is often defined as up to one drink a day for women or two or fewer drinks for a man. In the past, many studies have made headlines after they found people who drank a moderate amount of alcohol often had healthier outcomes than people who completely abstained from alcohol.

Alcohol-involved traffic fatalities in the U.S. — after several decades of decreasing — ticked up by 14% to 11,654 in 2020. A cocktail can range from 100 to nearly 500 calories, depending on the ingredients. If you drink alcohol, remember to include it in your meal planning so you’re not getting more calories than you need.

moderate drinking