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
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.