Is Alcohol Safe For Me? – Dr. Amit Agrawal – Agrawal Gastrocare Center Indore

The bottom line is that it is difficult to weigh the benefits and risks of alcohol. Nevertheless, several important conclusions can be drawn:

  • Beginning to drink alcohol may be inappropriate for people who have never been drinkers. There is no evidence that lifelong abstainers who begin drinking in middle or older age will lower their risk of any disease.
  • The diseases that may be prevented by moderate drinking (eg, Coronary Heart Disease [CHD] and ischemic stroke) are most prevalent in older adults, males, and people with CHD risk factors (eg, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes mellitus). For these groups, moderate alcohol use may reduce their risk of these conditions, but this needs to be balanced against the other potential harms of alcohol use and the known risks of heavy drinking; therefore, drinking with the specific goal of preventing these diseases is not recommended.
  • For young to middle-aged adults, particularly females, moderate alcohol use increases the risk of the most common causes of death, such as breast cancer and trauma. Males under the age of 45 years also may experience more harm than benefit from drinking. In these younger age groups, moderate alcohol use is very unlikely to reduce the risk of dying.
Is Alcohol Safe For Me? - Agrawal Gastrocare Center Indore - Dr. Amit Agrawal

Safe Dose of Alcohol — No amount of alcohol is considered safe. However, for individuals without such conditions, the healthiest “dose” of alcohol appears to be below one alcoholic drink daily, so long as the person does not, even occasionally, drink to excess.

Consuming less than one drink daily appears to be safe for most adults, assuming it is not done before (or while) driving or operating heavy equipment. However, keep in mind that the definition of “one drink” depends on serving size and type of alcohol; using a larger glass or putting more alcohol in a mixed drink will result in more than a standard single drink.

For many reasons, this is a question without simple or clear-cut answers. Drinking too much alcohol contributes to accidents and injuries and can lead to liver disease, high blood pressure, various cancers, and congenital anomalies (problems that affect a baby at birth), among other health problems. However, limited or moderate alcohol use may provide certain health benefits for adults, such as a possible reduced risk of coronary heart disease, although this has not been definitively proven. Understanding the potential risks and benefits of alcohol is essential to making an informed decision about alcohol use.

Drinking-related definitions vary according to age, sex, and other factors. The 2020 to 2025 US Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines suggest that, if a person chooses to drink alcohol, they should consume no more than one drink per day for females (and no alcohol during pregnancy) and no more than two drinks per day for males. 

The recommendations differ based on biological sex because, in general, females take longer to metabolize alcohol.

  • Heavy” drinking: For females, more than three drinks in a day or more than seven drinks per week. For males, more than four drinks in a day or more than 14 drinks per week.
  • “Binge” drinking: Four or more drinks for females, or five or more drinks for males, within about two hours.

Alcoholic Liver Disease and Cirrhosis — Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with a range of liver diseases, including alcoholic fatty liver disease (with or without steatohepatitis), alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis. People who drink heavily are at increased risk of cirrhosis. Low levels of alcohol are not clearly associated with cirrhosis in the absence of other factors.

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