Examining the Risks and Benefits of Alcohol


The debate of whether alcohol intake is good or bad for you still stands today. Several studies have been linking adverse effects of drinking alcohol and showed benefits, too.

We can safely say that alcohol has its risks and benefits. It all depends on your dosage of alcohol intake. Manufacturers and product endorsements have been incorporating moderate drinking as a word of caution to educate us of proper control. Moderate drinking has good effects on one’s health. It promotes the circulatory system and is good for the heart. On the other hand, heavy drinking adversely deteriorates human health, making it one of the causes of deaths in several countries. It damages the heart and the liver, can pose harm to a healthy pregnancy, and several other side effects toward a person’s overall well-being.

What is Moderate Drinking?

So, the question for alcohol drinkers goes, ‘What is considered a moderate drink? Or what is considered a drink?” This cannot simply be measured by a glass of red wine a day, as research suggests that your choice of alcoholic beverage does not greatly impact cardiovascular benefit. A glass of Jose Cuervo does not necessarily have the same impact to your body as a glass of Bailey’s Irish Cream.

Some studies refer to moderate drinking as one drink per day, while others measure three or four drinks in a day to consider it moderation. But as to what composes a “drink” still remains undefined, even among alcohol researchers. Probably, moderate drinking can be associated with proper control or a balancing act where the health benefits of drinking alcohol clearly compensate the risks it entails.

In the United States, the Department of Agriculture and Dietary Guidelines for Americans imposes a dosage of two drinks per day for males, and no more than a drink per day for females, and this is widely supported by the American citizens.

Health Benefits of Alcohol

One of the most noted health benefits of alcohol consumption is its suppression of possible cardiovascular diseases that include risk of heart attack, peripheral vascular disease, ischemic stroke, cardiac arrest, and other related diseases. These health benefits are associated with moderate drinking and are observed among men and women as well as older individuals. In a study done among 40-69 year old Japanese men, the heart-health benefits of low to moderate drinking were even more enhanced to those with a higher level of social support.

The connection between moderate drinking and prevention of cardiovascular disease is backed up by scientific explanation. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol level is increased with moderate alcohol intake which increases prevention of heart diseases. Moderate drinking is also shown to promote sensitivity to insulin and aids in prevention of blood clotting that may possibly form and block arteries of the heart and brain which is the main cause of heart attack and strokes.

Light to moderate alcohol consumption can also causes euphoria and stress relief. This is a psychological benefit that can be gained from light alcohol drinking. Minimal stress is good for the heart, but drinking must not become an excuse to relieve oneself from stress. Light alcohol intake can also prevent dementia and type 2 diabetes. However, if you are a non-drinker of alcohol, there is no need to open that bottle of Johnnie Walker if you think you are only considering the heart-health benefits.

Risks of Alcohol Consumption

The adverse effects of alcohol drinking can only happen with excessive drinking. Of course, too much of everything is no good. Too much alcohol consumption also poses a threat to human health and can take its toll on the body, even with a possibility of cancer risk. Research even noted a possibility of breast cancer development even for light drinking.

Heavy drinking can cause a type of muscle damage called “cirrhosis of the heart”. It can also be the cause of inflammation n of the liver called “alcoholic hepatitis”. Too much alcohol intake may raise high blood pressure level which can lead to the common alcohol-related diseases such as stroke and heart rhythm disturbances. The possibility of liver cancer and colorectal cancer among women is strongly associated with excess alcohol in the body, and the risk is even made more fatal for drinkers who smoke cigarette as well.

Another common risk associated with alcohol drinking, particular regular drinking, is weight gain. Alcohol being an appetite stimulant makes you want to eat more.

The risks and benefits of drinking alcohol may change over time. Usually, when a person reaches middle age, it is when the risks outweigh the benefits as the cardiovascular system tends to be carrying the burden of regular drinking that is already developing alcohol-related diseases.

The bottom line of alcohol drinking lies on how well you balance your body’s need for alcohol as it has various effects on each individual. There is always a borderline to many things, and when it comes to drinking alcohol, you should know better.

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