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Published on March 20th, 2013 | by The Local

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Is Alcohol Beneficial?

Unfortunately, there is no clear answer to this question. Most studies have been short and none were randomized. Some of the studies do point to cardiac benefit with moderate consumption, but with the most significant benefit coming with light consumption. The majority of studies are short term and do little to tell us the benefit of alcohol consumption over the long term.

Certain exclusions to alcohol consumption do exist and must be noted: pregnancy, history of pancreatic inflammation (pancreatitis), family history of alcoholism, history of liver disease, and anyone who is operating potentially dangerous equipment or machinery. In most studies, moderate alcohol consumption showed that the benefits equaled cardiac mortality. People with heart disease should refrain from alcohol consumption as well.

The most beneficial consumption level for health, found over a multitude of studies, seems to be one drink for both men and women. However, moderate alcohol intake associated with low risk is: for men, less than 3 drinks per day, for women, less than 2 drinks per day, for those over the age of 65, less than 2 drinks per day. Heavy drinking levels that create risk for alcohol-related health problems: women, greater than 7 drinks per week and 3 drinks per occasion, for men, greater than 14 drinks per week and 4 drinks per occasion. Binge drinking is defined as: for women, 4 drinks or more per occasion, and for men, 5 drinks or more per occasion.

Please note a review of all studies do not show more benefit for cardiac health if one consumes over 0.5 portions of alcohol per occasion.

*Consult your primary care physician for further guidance.

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