Food Is Not Your Enemy


Alcohol: The Benefits and Risks
December 19, 2017, 11:40 am
Filed under: Chronic Disease, Healthy Lifestyle | Tags: , ,

There’s no question that too much alcohol is not good for us—heavy drinking is a major cause of preventable death, whether from liver disease or traffic accidents. But what about “moderate” drinking? And what counts as moderate, anyway?

According to the USDA, moderate drinking means one to two drinks per day for men, and one drink per day for women. One drink is considered to be 12 ounces of beer, or 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard alcohol. This quantity of alcohol is considered to be more helpful than harmful—at least when it comes to such issues as heart health. In study after study, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, moderate drinkers have a 25-40% reduced risk of heart attack and stroke. They also have less risk of developing type 2 diabetes and gallstones.

But other studies have found that even moderate drinking can raise our risk of developing certain types of cancer, such as cancer of the breast, esophagus, throat and neck, larynx, liver, and colon. As far as breast cancer risk, alcohol can change the way a woman’s body metabolizes estrogen, which can lead to higher levels of estrogen in the body. This rise, in turn, can raise breast cancer risk.

There is some good news on this front, though—folate appears to mitigate this increased risk of breast cancer significantly. In the wide-ranging Nurses’ Health Study, among women who consumed one alcoholic drink a day or more, those whose blood contained the highest levels of folate–a B vitamin found in dark leafy greens, citrus, nuts, beans, and seeds–were 90% less likely to develop breast cancer than those who had the lowest levels of folate.

It’s also good to remember that alcohol contains empty calories that do not help us feel full. If you’re concerned about your weight, remember that each glass of wine, beer, or straight liquor you have will contain 100-150 calories, and that’s before you get involved with added sugary syrups and sodas in cocktails. Have a few drinks on a Friday night and you’ve essentially had an additional dinner’s worth of calories.

So enjoy your booze, but keep your intake under control. And eat your greens!

Advertisements