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Is moderate drinking good for you? Science says no

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Update : সোমবার, ২৮ মার্চ, ২০২২, ৭:৫১ অপরাহ্ন

The first of these to appear is fatty liver, characterized by increased fat inside liver cells. Despite this, the question of beneficial effects of alcohol has been a contentious issue in research for years. If cutting back on alcohol is hard for you to do on your own, ask your health care professional about getting help. Cut out alcohol from your life, and your concentration will get better, as well as your school and/or job performance. But once you fall asleep, the alcohol can wake you up throughout the night.

is alcohol good for you

Moderate drinking isn’t likely to extend your life, according to a new meta-analysis that adds to the mounting scientific consensus that alcohol consumption offers few health benefits and comes with serious risks. One study of more than 45,000 drinkers found that the total number of drinks each week didn’t necessarily influence weight gain. But the number of drinks people consumed on days they chose to drink did impact their weight.

Health benefits of alcohol

When you don’t drink, your immune system is stronger, meaning you’ll experience less frequent sickness. However, it’s important to know that immune dysfunction is prevalent in our society, for a variety of reasons. It is proven that alcohol disrupts your immune is alcohol good for you system’s ability to fight/recover from bacterial and viral infections, but also liver disease, lung disease, cancer, or simple injuries and wounds. Therefore, abstaining from alcohol makes it easier for your body to naturally fight off infection and diseases.

Chronic alcohol abuse can have catastrophic health effects, impacting your entire body and causing a range of health problems. Many different subtypes of alcohol dependence exist, characterized by alcohol cravings, inability to abstain or loss of self-control when drinking (71). Some people become addicted to the effects of alcohol, a condition known as alcohol dependence or alcoholism. Alcohol consumption is a risk factor for cancers of the mouth, throat, colon, breast and liver (57, 58, 59). The relationship between alcohol and heart disease is complex and depends on several factors. In fact — while drinking beer regularly may cause an increase in waist circumference — the well-known “beer belly” — wine consumption may have the opposite effect (31, 35, 36).

Alcohol: Balancing Risks and Benefits

Experts predict that most drinkers’ livers can return to completely normal function after 4-8 weeks of no alcohol. Some of these health benefits apply to those struggling with alcohol use disorder and alcohol withdrawal, but let’s focus on the positive changes you can experience by reducing the amount of alcohol you drink or cutting it out completely. There’s a popular belief that alcohol — especially red wine — is good for the heart. At the same time, a new perspective emerged that the problem with alcohol lay in alcoholism, a condition afflicting only a small number of people. This perspective suggested that the solution wasn’t to impose broad alcohol regulation—which would, in this view, hardly affect alcoholics—but to offer specialized assistance to the unfortunate few battling the disease.

Drinking alcohol was also a leading cause of cancer for people older than 50. For example, it can cause liver damage — including cirrhosis — brain damage, heart failure, diabetes, cancer and susceptibility to infections (9, 54, 58, 72, 73, 74). Alcohol dependence is one of the main causes of alcohol abuse and disability in the US and a strong risk factor for various diseases (70). Studies suggest that light and moderate consumption of alcohol may cut the risk of premature death — especially in Western societies (66, 67).

Helps Your Brain

And while the initial excitement was about wine, some of the research focused on beer, with many papers not distinguishing between types of drinks. In theory, any type of alcohol should have the same cardioprotective effect. In theory, the benefits from alcohol could come from its ability to (slightly) raise HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) and reduce the likelihood of clot formation. Wine and beer contain polyphenols, which are a type of antioxidant, and antioxidants help protect the human body from cardiovascular and other diseases.

  • While the 2020 review suggests that consuming small amounts of alcohol may carry some benefit, consuming large amounts, even occasionally, remains detrimental.
  • That’s 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.
  • As you get older and continue to avoid alcohol-related health problems, you can drink a little bit more, but not much.
  • Previous research has already shown that just as women metabolize alcohol differently than men, they also face more serious health consequences.
  • In the early 20th century, the temperance movement was fueled by the conviction that alcohol was a nefarious substance wreaking havoc on society, causing physical, social, and moral damage to all who indulged.
  • Compared to non-drinkers, people who had one alcoholic beverage per day had a 0.5% higher risk of developing one of 23 alcohol-related health problems, including cancer, road injuries and tuberculosis, in a given year, the study says.
  • When directly prompted, only a third of people knew (or guessed correctly) that alcohol was linked to cancer.

Similarly, a meta-analysis of data from 34 studies with more than one million participants also found a survival benefit to moderate drinking. In this analysis, men who consumed up to four drinks a day were up to 17 percent less likely to die prematurely, while women who consumed up to two drinks daily had an 18 percent lower risk of premature death. For some cancers, such as liver and colorectal, the risk starts only when people drink excessively. But for breast and esophageal cancer, the risk increases, albeit slightly, with any alcohol consumption. More recent research has found that even low levels of drinking slightly increase the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease, and the risk goes up dramatically for people who drink excessively. The good news is that when people stop drinking or just cut back, their blood pressure goes down.

The Bottom Line: Balancing Risks and Benefits

“At higher levels, per drink, women seem to be at greater risk of mortality than men,” Stockwell adds. That may be because women, on average, are smaller than men and become impaired by less alcohol, he says. Stockwell and his colleagues, who published https://ecosoberhouse.com/article/alcoholics-heart-problems-cardiomyopathy/ their meta-analysis in JAMA Network Open on Mar. 31, set out to correct some of those issues. Most U.S. adults drink at some point in their lifetime, according to survey data from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

is alcohol good for you

Plus, alcohol is a buzzkill (forgive the terrible pun…) for many medications. Alcohol reacts poorly with various prescription and over-the-counter drugs, including antidepressants, painkillers, and acetaminophen. This 2017 study shows a huge portion of undergraduate students drink at a hazardous and harmful rate — which literally everyone in the country could have guessed. You could probably also guess that it affects their ability to concentrate and perform well academically. It has been known for decades that mental functions like concentration and vigilance are impaired when someone is well below the blood alcohol level legal limit.

“Those who become frail, are on medication, or socialize less [tend to] stop or cut down on their drinking.” Moderate drinkers may indeed be healthier than abstainers, but alcohol isn’t necessarily the reason. Many studies linking obesity to alcohol consumption clearly demonstrate the negative impact of heavy drinking and binge drinking on body weight. As with many other health outcomes from alcohol consumption, the picture is mixed when it comes to the link between obesity and moderate drinking.


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