We all have vices.
In fact, I often talk about how coffee—a popular morning “vice”—confers some health benefits.
But what about another common vice that people LOVE to indulge in?
One that young and older adults sometimes bond over… and that shows up at some of life’s most special celebrations?
Well, research has wavered over the years. But considering around 3 million people DIE from this not-always-innocent indulgence each year, it’s high time to take a closer look…
And try to determine if this particular vice is worth it—or not.
You win some, you lose some
A recent analysis looked at the effects of alcohol consumption on our health.
And they found moderate drinking could offer some protection to those 40 and older. (This is typically defined as one to two drinks in a day.)
For the study, one drink was defined as 10 grams (g) of pure alcohol. That’s about a small glass of red wine, a can or bottle of beer, or a shot of whiskey or other spirits.
Ultimately, drinking this small amount was linked to potential health benefits among those without any underlying health conditions—such as reducing the risk of ischemic heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
However, research has also linked alcohol consumption to a heightened risk of cancer, intentional and unintentional injuries, infectious diseases, and more.
So, is it worth it?
Moderation is key
The health risks and benefits of moderate alcohol consumption are complex. When I was in medical school (and for many years after), alcohol consumption and risk was thought to take a U-shaped curve.
In other words, those who drank either nothing at all or overindulged experienced the worst outcomes.
Now, research suggest it’s more of a J-shaped curve—shifting the focus to very small amounts (and perhaps even abstinence) for the best outcomes.
As for me, well, I’m going to remain in the moderation is key category.
Given the mixed evidence, I just don’t feel comfortable advising anyone that they need to give up alcohol entirely. And I have never recommended overindulging.
In fact, this issue deserves a much more balanced approach… which I speak about, in detail, in the September 2021 issue of my monthly Logical Health Alternatives newsletter (“Your body on booze: Breaking down the good, the bad, and the unknown”).
I also outline five strategies for safer drinking. So, if you’re not already a newsletter subscriber, don’t miss out! Click here to become one and gain immediate access.
In the meantime, use common sense when it comes to alcohol consumption and your health. And when you choose to indulge, stick with spirits. Clear alcohols and sugar-free mixers (like club soda) are best.
Until next time,
“Moderate Drinking May Benefit Over-40 Crowd: Study.” WebMD, 07/21/2022. (webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/news/20220721/moderate-drinking-may-benefit-over-40-crowd-study)