Are You Aware of How Alcohol Affects Health?
Recent research has shown that alcohol, especially red wine, may be beneficial to heart health. But alcohol consumption can affect health in many ways. Consider these facts:
- Too much alcohol can lead to weight gain. According to the American Dietetic Association, 12 ounces of regular beer is 150 calories, 5 ounces of wine is 100 calories and 1.5 ounces of liquor is 100 calories. If you include alcohol in your diet but donâ€™t compensate for the extra calories with additional activity or by eating less, you'll gain weight. (What counts as one drink?)
- Drinking alcohol may increase breast cancer risk. According to the National Institutes on Health, there may be a link between high alcohol consumption and the risk of breast cancer.
- Alcohol can cause birth defects in the fetuses of pregnant women. Women who drink heavily during pregnancy may place their unborn babies at risk for fetal alcohol syndrome, a condition that involves cognitive impairment. There is no known "safe" limit for alcohol in pregnancy, so expecting women are advised to abstain from alcohol altogether.
- Medicines + alcohol = a potentially deadly mix. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says there are more than 150 medications that can have harmful interactions with alcohol, including medicines used to treat diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. If you take a prescription medicine, talk to your doctor or pharmacist before drinking.
Alcohol abuse and alcoholism may also lead to chronic liver disease and death. This April, Alcohol Awareness Month, consider the ways that alcohol may be affecting your health. If you drink, do it in moderation, which the U.S. Dietary Guidelines defines as no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men. Because alcohol can be dehydrating, consume extra water after drinking alcoholic beverages. And donâ€™t forget to drink responsibly by always having prearranged transportation or a designated driver.
Alcohol and hypertension
Sources: American Dietetic Association, www.eatright.org; National Institutes on Health/ National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/