Harvard on Healthy Alcohol Use

With New Year’s Eve looming and the prospect of drinking alcohol as an integral part of our celebration, the Harvard School of Public Health has some suggestions on the healthy use of alcohol.

“While moderate drinking can increase the risk of colon and breast cancer, these risks are trumped by the boost in cardiovascular health—especially in middle age, when heart disease begins to account for an increasingly large share of disease and deaths.”

A visual guide to moderate drinking

A visual guide to moderate drinking

Moderate drinking amounts to one drink a day for women, for men whose bodies on average are larger, it’s up to two drinks a day. As the illustration shows: one drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine and 1-1/2 ounces of hard liquor.

Harvard offered 5 Quick Tips on Staying Healthy with Alcohol

1. If you don’t drink, there’s no need to start. For some people—especially pregnant women, people recovering from alcohol addiction, people with a family history of alcoholism, people with liver disease, and people taking one or more medications that interact with alcohol—the risks of drinking outweigh the benefits.

There are other ways to boost your heart health and lower your risk of diabetes, such as getting more active, staying at a healthy weight, or eating healthy fats and whole grains.

2. If you do drink, drink in moderation—and choose whatever drink you like. Wine, beer, or spirits—each seems to have the same health benefits as long as moderation’s the word (no more than one drink per day for women, and no more than two drinks per day for men).

3. Take a multivitamin with folic acid. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, a B vitamin that may help lower the risk of heart disease and cancers of the colon and breast. Those who drink may benefit the most from getting extra folate, since alcohol moderately depletes our body’s stores. The amount in a standard multivitamin—400 micrograms—is enough, when combined with a healthy diet.

4. Ask your doctor about your drinking habits.  If you (or your friends) think you may have a problem with drinking, talk to a doctor or other health professional about it. He or she can help.

5. Pick a designated driver. Alcohol and driving do not mix. If you’ve been out drinking cocktails and it’s time to head home, hand your car keys to someone who’s been sipping seltzer all night.

Harvard offered a full article on alcohol here.



Filed under brain, colon cancer, drinking alcohol, heart, heart problems, Weight

4 responses to “Harvard on Healthy Alcohol Use

  1. Great post and good information! I’m glad Harvard included #1. I’ve always been curious as to the definition of a moderate drinker and you included a good visual that explained it well. The problem I see is that so many people who call themselves “moderate drinkers” are actually full blown alcoholics and the heaviest of all drinkers. I purposely stay away from it since I have quite the family history of alcoholism and a history of colon cancer (both parents as well as many other relatives). I tell my two sons who are both in college and exposed to heavy drinking on a daily basis, to never touch the stuff (due to our family history), to not ever “get started.” I’ve lost too many loved ones from alcohol addictions. And one is too many in my opinion. Thanks for a great and informative post.


    • Tony

      Gain –

      Thanks, great to hear from you. I agree completely about the importance of understanding what MODERATE drinker really means. Too often the definition is as self-serving as it is inaccurate. I wish you luck with your college age sons. I was in college 50 years ago and the temptations were horrible then. I lost almost a year of college because of my drinking to be ‘one of the cool guys.’ I hope they heed your guidance.


  2. I admit that I am an alcohol lover and I believe I can give up drinking if I get these benefits especially the increased mental clarity and better moods, which I need at work.
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    Liked by 1 person

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