In moderation, alcohol is thought to be quite good for us. The trouble is that many people don’t realize what is a safe limit. It’s also pretty easy to get into the habit of drinking more than we should. A glass of wine at night suddenly becomes two every night. A quick drink out in town can develop into an all-night binge leaving you feeling sore headed and awful the next morning.
The good news in the USA is that 60% of people either don’t drink at all or only have about one drink a week. 10% of people, however, drink on average 74 alcoholic beverages a week. That’s pretty big, even bigger when you realize that it equates to 24 million people. 74 beers a week is ten a day and that’s way beyond the recommended safe limits of alcohol.
Research suggests that 20% of drinkers in the US, the ones who do it every day, supply 80% of the profits to the drinks industry. Without them we wouldn’t have quite so many products and the shelves and many fewer places where alcohol was sold.
Heavy drinking can affect practically all parts of the body, including:
Not only that, too much alcohol can cause damage to the kidneys and pancreas, lead to diseases such as throat and breast cancer and weaken your immune system making you more prone to illness.
It’s not only your own personal health that too much alcohol can cause a problem. Many traffic accidents are related to someone being over the limit with drink. It can cause money issues and the breakdown of families, loss of jobs and other social problems.
There’s plenty of research on what the effects of drinking too much can do to you. Finding that safe balance of having a little pick me up and actually causing your body way too much harm is difficult for many, particularly when you don’t see the results straight away. Conditions such as cirrhosis of the liver can take many years to develop without people being aware anything is wrong.
Research at Harvard found that men who had more than 2 drinks a night (14 a week) started to show serious signs of damage to their hearts. In women, it was lower, just 1 drink a night.
The level of alcohol that is deemed safe to drink is normally set by government bodies but they vary considerably from country to country. In the USA, 3 to 4 drinks a day is the maximum advised while in the UK the level has recently been brought lower to two units a day. In Spain it’s higher than everywhere else. There’s also a difference in advice for particular groups of people – for instance in some countries moderate alcohol consumption is accepted for pregnant women while in others abstinence is recommended.
Of course, a glass of scotch has more alcohol than a glass of beer and what your favorite drink is can also make a difference to your health. Drinking habits are also a factor. Some people have a small drink every day, others wait until the weekend to have a binge session where they can consume a weeks’ supply in just a few hours.
For now, the recommendations in the US are that men should be having no more than 4 drinks on any given day and no more than 14 in a week. Women should be having no more than 3 drinks a day and just 7 during a week. You should avoid alcohol entirely if you:
Maintaining safe limits is important if you want to stay in good health and avoid problems later in life. It’s easy to start drinking too much, particularly in social situations but you should think about your level of consumption at least once in a while.