In honor of Alcohol Awareness Month, we're taking a look at science behind the moderate consumption of alcohol to help our patients make informed decisions with the most up-to-date information available.

Science around Moderate Alcohol Consumption

What are the current consumption guidelines?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans provides advice on what to eat and drink to meet nutrient needs, promote health, and help prevent chronic disease from U.S. Department of Agriculture in cooperation with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans for 2020-2025, recommends that adults of legal drinking age who choose to drink do so 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.  The Guidelines also DO NOT recommend that individuals who do not drink alcohol start drinking for any reason.  It further recommends that adults of legal drinking age who decide to drink alcoholic beverages, drink less for better health.

Drinking at levels above the outlined 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.

People Who Shouldn’t Drink At All

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

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

Science around Moderation 

  • 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)."
  • Although past studies have suggested that moderate alcohol consumption has protective health benefits (e.g., reducing risk of heart disease), recent studies show this may not be true.  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.
  • Most U.S. adults who drink don’t consume alcohol every day.  This makes it 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, binge drinking increases the risk of experiencing alcohol-related harm in the short-term and in the future.

Learn more from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention

If you have questions about your alcohol consumption or need help, reach out to your Inspired Health Group care team today.  We are here to help without judgement!

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