You may have heard alcohol has some health benefits, but you should read this before you pick up your next drink.
Alcohol is a double-edged sword when it comes to your health. Light to moderate drinking has been shown to have some cardiovascular health benefits. But heavy drinking can have detrimental effects. With drinking, the amount you consume makes all the difference — and you certainly shouldn’t start drinking for the health benefits.
First, let’s define what a “drink” is. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) describes one alcoholic drink as containing 14 grams of pure alcohol. This is found in approximately:
- 12 ounces of regular beer, which is usually about 5 percent alcohol
- 5 ounces of wine, which is typically about 12 percent alcohol
- 5 ounces of distilled spirits, which are about 40 percent alcohol
Moderate drinking, according to the latest dietary guidelines, is the consumption of no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women. According to the NIAAA, heavy or “at-risk” drinking can mean either a lot of drinks at one time (more than three for women and four for men) or a lot of drinks spaced out (more than seven per week for women and 14 per week for men).
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“I think we all underestimate our intake,” said Sharon Orrange, MD, a clinical associate professor of medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and a primary care physician at Keck Medicine of USC. “It’s seven drinks a week for women. Men can have two drinks a night. I tell