Fellows of the American College of Cardiology (FACC) 2007 Research Review:
Moderate alcohol consumption is defined differently depending on the culture
and industry you ask. When it comes to your internal health, Dr. James
O’Keefe et al. concluded the level of safe, or moderate, intake
of alcohol after compiling data on over 1 million subjects. A light to
moderate level of daily drinking, 0.5-1 drinks for women and 1-2 drinks
for men, is associated with the lowest risk for several diseases: coronary
heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, congestive heart failure, stroke,
dementia, Raynaud’s phenomenon, and all-cause mortality. When the
data is graphed, it forms what the authors call a “J” curve.
Risk levels drop at low levels of daily drinking and linearly increase
with rising alcohol intake.
One Drink Definition: 1.5 oz of 80-proof spirits, 1 oz of 100-proof spirits,
12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine, or any drink containing 13-15g of ethanol.
What the Results Tell Us: To drink above moderate levels, even if done
infrequently, such as in binge drinking, is a health-risk. For example,
it is better for an average man to drink 1 drink every other day, than
to drink 4 drinks in one day.
What the Results Do Not Tell Us: The American Heart Association cautions
people to not start drinking as a form of treatment if they currently
abstain. The benefits listed above can be achieved through diet and exercise
instead. Alcohol may cause problems in people with diseases such as heart
failure, cardiomyopathy (abnormal heart muscle function), high blood pressure,
diabetes, arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm), stroke, obesity, or high
triglycerides. Certain medications may react to alcohol, minimizing the
medicine’s benefit and possibly creating more severe side effects.
Pregnant women and those with a history of alcoholism should not drink at all.
Moderate Drinking for Your Body: For those who partake in moderation and
will continue to do so, be aware that tolerance levels change with age.
With age, organs shrink for everyone. It is common that skeletal and muscle
tissue also degenerate. When organs shrink, metabolism is less efficient
and the body cannot break down alcohol as quickly. Drops in lean body
mass reduce water absorption and the body’s ability to stay hydrated.
If you need help determining how much alcohol is safe for you to drink,
talk with your primary care physician.
By Josette Taglieri, D.O.Kyla Bauer, Exercise Physiologist
Image courtesy of tungphoto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net