Alcohol use is widely accepted in the US, but even moderate consumption is associated with many harmful effects

Furthermore, if reduced thiamine is mediating brain iron accumulation, then interventions to improve nutrition and thiamine supplementation could be extended beyond harmful and dependent drinkers, as is currently recommended [87], to moderate drinkers. Another study that followed roughly 9,000 middle-aged adults over more than two decades found moderate drinking less harmful to the brain than abstaining or heavy alcohol consumption. People who abstained from drinking were 47 percent more likely to develop dementia than moderate drinkers. In addition, people who cut back on alcohol consumption in middle age had a higher dementia risk than adults who consistently consumed moderate amounts of alcohol. We’ve known about the association between moderate drinking and good health for quite some time. Researchers have identified that people who drink a moderate amount – usually between 1-2 standard drinks (16-20g of alcohol) a day – are at a lower risk of things like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity than both people who drink a lot and people who never drink.

moderate drinking

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and other public health agencies, there are at least four times as many problem drinkers as alcoholics in this country. However, most alcohol treatment programs are designed for people with the most severe drinking problems. Rarely, if ever, do heavy drinkers choose to give up alcohol for good until they are convinced by their own experience that moderation is simply not attainable. What’s more, they refuse to define themselves as “alcoholic/addict” or give in to pressure to attend AA meetings. https://ecosoberhouse.com/article/alcohol-neuropathy-symptoms-and-treatment/ is possible for some people who previously had an issue with alcohol, even for those who have joined Alcoholics Anonymous, although it’s likely these individuals didn’t have an official alcohol use disorder (commonly referred to as “alcoholism”). They may have been “problem drinkers,” “heavy drinkers,” or “binge drinkers.”

What does it mean to be above the legal limit for drinking?

Unfortunately, a future long trial of alcohol and clinical outcomes may never be attempted again, but nevertheless, the connection between moderate drinking and cardiovascular disease almost certainly represents a cause-and-effect relationship based on all of the available evidence to date. Brain iron deposition has been linked to several neurodegenerative conditions and reported in alcohol dependence. Whether iron accumulation occurs in moderate drinkers is unknown. Our objectives were to investigate evidence in support of causal relationships between alcohol consumption and brain iron levels and to examine whether higher brain iron represents a potential pathway to alcohol-related cognitive deficits. It also examined risk estimates when using occasional drinkers rather than lifetime abstainers as the reference group. In the fully adjusted models, there were nonsignificant protective associations for low-volume drinkers whether using lifetime abstainers or occasional drinkers as the reference group, though this was only a RR of 0.97 for the latter.

What is moderate drinking?

What does moderate drinking mean? According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans,1 adults of legal drinking age can choose not to drink, or to drink in moderation by limiting intake to 2 drinks or less in a day for men and 1 drink or less in a day for women, when alcohol is consumed.

Therefore, further studies focused on drinking pattern are necessary to elucidate the effect of moderate alcohol consumption on the immune response. Importance 
A previous meta-analysis of the association between alcohol use and all-cause mortality found no statistically significant reductions in mortality risk at low levels of consumption compared with lifetime nondrinkers. However, the risk estimates may have been affected by the number and quality of studies then available, especially those for women and younger cohorts.

Possible Health Benefits of Alcohol

Firstly, we could run a randomised controlled trial, giving people a bit of booze every day for a long time, and see if they get healthier. Alternately, we can try and control for all of the external factors that are influencing the relationship between health and alcohol, and see whether moderate drinkers are still healthier. 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. The definition of moderate drinking is something of a balancing act.

  • This led to the broad notion in the popular media that a glass of red wine a day reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
  • As our study was conducted using existing resources to test an a priori hypothesis, we did not publish a prespecified analysis plan before conducting analyses between November 2021 and January 2022.
  • One serving of alcohol is defined as 5 ounces for wine and just 1 1/2 ounces for hard alcohol, far less than what is typically served in bars, restaurants and people’s homes.
  • Any potential benefits of alcohol are relatively small and may not apply to all individuals.

Dr. Eric Collins (MD), chief medical officer at the substance abuse-focused Recovery Education, said earlier research on drinking that found it might have general health benefits came from a flawed data analysis. » Individuals who received moderation training substantially reduced their alcohol consumption on average by 50-70% and, as a result, significantly reduced health and social problems related to their drinking. Although alcohol plays a pivotal role in American culture, in my view the undisputed consequences of drinking moderate drinking make it unwise to recommend alcohol as a path to better health and well-being. As I see it, the small reductions in cardiovascular disease that are questionably linked to low levels of consumption are hardly offset by the sizable harms of alcohol on individual and population health. There are a number of things the U.S. could do to reduce the burden of alcohol consumption through public policy. One proven effective policy includes increasing alcohol excise taxes, which are selective sales taxes on the purchase of alcohol.

Here’s why moderate drinking is probably not good for you

Older adults may also be affected by alcohol differently than younger to middle-aged adults. To break it down for you further, here’s how both the CDC and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) define a standard drink. Dr. Hester has published over 60 journal articles on the topic of substance misuse and digital interventions including in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, the Journal of Medical Internet Research, and The Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. Most importantly, you must first decide whether you want to stop having alcohol-related problems. There you can take a good look at your drinking and get objective feedback.

  • 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.
  • An enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase helps metabolize alcohol.
  • Moderate drinking sits at the point at which the health benefits of alcohol clearly outweigh the risks.

The analysis, published recently in JAMA Network Open, looked at over 100 studies with nearly 5 million participants in all. Previous research has already shown that just as women metabolize alcohol differently than men, they also face more serious health consequences. One serving of alcohol is defined as 5 ounces for wine and just 1 1/2 ounces for hard alcohol, far less than what is typically served in bars, restaurants and people’s homes.

Pros and cons of moderate alcohol use

The researchers also found that people who drank harmful amounts of alcohol were most likely to be aged 15 to 39 (59.1%) and male (76.9%). They tend to be wealthier, are more likely to exercise and to eat a healthy diet, and are less likely to be overweight. No matter your reason for looking at your drinking habits, you may find that in the end, you don’t need alcohol at all. If you’re looking for an alcohol-free wine alternative, Surely has got you covered. If you’re thinking about moderate drinking for yourself, there’s a few things to think about. The third gives you a way to compare different kinds of alcohol and encourages you to use a standard drink (Standard Ethanol Content or SEC to use research terms) and gives you a calculator for it.

moderate drinking

This is all keeping in mind that moderate alcohol consumption and moderation management programs aren’t appropriate for those groups we already listed above. There is also some evidence that genes influence how alcohol affects the cardiovascular system. An enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase helps metabolize alcohol.

Pathways from alcohol to brain iron

There are many well-established problems with drinking even at moderate levels that likely outweigh any potential benefits. In 2018, the National Institutes of Health initiated a large randomized control trial – the gold standard for understanding causal relationships – to look into the benefits of moderate drinking. Whether you carry a physical card in your wallet or use your smartphone, try tracking your drinks to get a better handle on your consumption. Similarly, make sure the drinks you are counting are standard sizes (12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits).

  • Some heavy drinkers who’ve experienced problems from their drinking can learn how to moderate their drinking.
  • It found not only no significant health benefit to moderate alcohol consumption, but also that drinking a daily serving of alcohol of less than 1 ounce for women and around 1.5 ounces for men increased the risk of death.
  • If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account.

Another study of more than 37,000 adults also linked BMI to the number of drinks consumed per day. “The big unanswered question is whether consuming a standard drink of alcohol a day — meaning a glass of wine or a single 12-oz can or bottle of beer or one shot of spirits — is overall better or worse for your health,” Dr. Marcus says. Regular moderate drinkers are less likely to get kidney stones — 41% less likely for those who drink beer, 33% for wine drinkers. Part of the reason may be that alcohol, like caffeine in coffee and tea, makes you pee more often. Drink too much, though, and you can get dehydrated, and that increases your risk of kidney stones along with other health problems.

And we may not give it a second thought because we’ve heard over and over again that it’s fine to drink in moderation. Moderate drinkers are far more likely to exercise than people who don’t drink. On the flip side, the more you exercise, the more likely you are to drink now and then.

Heavy drinkers risk muscle loss, new study finds – Medical News Today

Heavy drinkers risk muscle loss, new study finds.

Posted: Mon, 29 May 2023 14:42:36 GMT [source]

This pertains to all the authors of the piece, their spouses or partners. Drinking in moderation means you’ll likely need to turn down a drink now and again. Planning exactly how you’ll say no—in a quick, polite, and convincing way—can make it easier for you to stick with your convictions and avoid a spiral of uncomfortable excuses.

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