For many years that humans have been consuming alcohol, there has been an unending debate about its risks and benefits.
Despite the volume of media coverage against its consumption, it remains one of the most consumed drinks, notably in social settings and gatherings.
In truth, the risks of alcohol consumption outweigh its benefits. There have also been contradictory reports by scientists about the benefits of alcohol.
A 2023 publication by the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that no level of alcohol consumption is safe for our health.
Meanwhile, a publication by the Harvard School of Public Health noted that moderate drinking is good for the heart and circulatory system.
It is essential to note that this article is in no way to promote the consumption of alcohol but instead to educate on how you may safely consume it without causing damage to your health or injuring others.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI), for instance, is one of the leading causes of road accidents in the US.
The NHTSA 2020 data report showed over 11,000 people were killed in auto crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers. This accounted for 30 percent of all travel-related deaths in the US in 2020.
According to the Law Office of Aaron M. Black, PLLC, a law firm with an experienced Scottsdale DUI lawyer, if you are arrested for alcohol-impaired driving, your driver’s license may be automatically suspended, among other punishments. Your best bet is to get a good lawyer with years of experience handling similar cases.
What amount of alcohol is safe to consume?
The 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reveals 219.2 million people at least 12 years old have consumed alcohol at some point in their lifetime.
People drink alcohol for different reasons. It might occasionally be during a social gathering to relax, cope with negative emotions, or escape stress.
With the daily reports of the danger of alcohol consumption, knowing how much is safe if you are to drink at all is crucial.
The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend no more than two standard drinks per day for men and one for women. A standard drink is any beverage containing 14 grams of pure alcohol.
However, certain individuals, such as pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers, should not consume alcohol; it is dangerous for the fetus and baby, respectively.
Likewise, drinking alcohol with cirrhosis can increase the risk of complications.
Health benefits of alcohol
Consuming moderate amounts of alcohol can offer some health benefits. Below are some scientifically researched health benefits of alcohol consumption;
Improves cardiovascular health
Cardiovascular diseases, commonly known as heart diseases, are the leading cause of death globally. The WHO estimated it killed 17.9 million people in 2019 alone.
Moderate consumption of alcohol can reduce the risk of heart disease. However, consuming more than moderate will significantly increase the risk.
May prevent type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. The CDC estimated that over 37 million Americans suffer from diabetes, and about 90 percent are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Little to moderate consumption of alcohol may help to fight some of the symptoms of the condition, like insulin resistance and blood-sugar level.
There have been contradictory reports from research on the link between alcohol and obesity.
Nevertheless, some studies claim light to moderate consumption of alcohol drunk can reduce weight while linking heavy drinking to weight gain.
Risks of alcohol consumption
Heavy drinkers are at increased risk of many health problems.
- Birth defect
- Stroke and high blood pressure
- Liver damage (Such as fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis)
How to balance the risks and benefits of alcohol consumption
Although there are some probable health benefits of alcohol consumption, they are not convincing enough to encourage its consumption.
The health risk of heavy drinking far outweighs the benefits of moderate consumption of alcohol. Therefore, people who do not drink should not start because of these few health benefits.
There are many safer alternatives to achieve the same and better health benefits. Some evidence also suggests that genes play a role in the likelihood of developing alcoholism. Genes can also influence how alcohol affects your cardiovascular system.
If you have no history of alcoholism but enjoy drinking, keep your consumption moderate.
Your physician should be able to advise you appropriately on the consumption of alcohol based on your health record.
Meanwhile, the health benefit of alcohol consumption depends on the drink type. Red wine is considered the healthiest alcoholic beverage because it contains antioxidants that improve brain and heart health.