Alcohol. How much is too much?

When trying to determine if your drinking habits are worrisome, you'll likely wonder: How much is too much?

Millions of people drink alcoholic beverages on a regular basis without ever developing a drinking problem; they do not become alcohol abusers, alcohol dependent, or alcoholics. But how do you know if you are drinking at a safe level? How much alcohol can you drink and still be considered a low-risk drinker?

Research has shown that women develop alcohol problems at lower levels of consumption than men. Therefore, the guidelines for low-risk drinking are lower for females.

Guidelines for women are three or fewer standard drinks a day and no more than seven drinks per week. As for men, both the daily and weekly standards must be met to remain in the low-risk category.

If you drink only two drinks a day, but drink them every day, that is 14 drinks a week -- twice the recommended amount for low-risk consumption.

What about Red Wine?

Red wine is, indeed, an excellent source of antioxidants (so are the grapes it’s made from) as well as resveratrol. Alcohol (in moderation) has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, and may decrease the risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Unfortunately, many people overindulge without regard for the negative health consequences of alcohol, or the excess, "empty" calories it contains. Moderate alcohol intake is defined as no more than two drinks for men, and one drink for women, per day. Studies have shown that high alcohol intake increases aromatization of androgens to estrogen, and impedes the liver’s ability to clear excess estrogen from the body.

In women, more than one drink per day can increase breast cancer risk. In men, more than two drinks per day boost estrogen levels within the liver and may lead to weight gain in the waist and the development of "man boobs.” Heavy drinking in men—defined as four or more drinks per day, five or more days per week—increases the risk for aggressive forms of prostate cancer.



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