Navigation Links
The Health Benefits, and Risks, of Alcohol
Date:7/20/2012

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, July 20 (HealthDay News) -- Mirroring so much of life, alcohol consumption comes with plusses and minuses.

A lot of recent research has highlighted the potentially beneficial effects on the heart and other parts of the body of drinking wine and other alcoholic beverages. But risks to health exist, too, as well as the more well-known and potentially life-threatening effects of alcohol, including drunken driving and addiction.

The Good

Alcohol consumption in moderation has been linked to a host of good outcomes. Studies have suggested that drinking alcohol, wine in particular, may reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, gallstone formation, type 2 diabetes and dementia. It may also give your metabolism a slight boost.

"Alcohol, especially red wine, has resveratrol and antioxidants and bioflavonoids and polyphenols, and all of these wonderful things that dilate the arteries and reduce inflammation," said Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of women and heart disease at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, and a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association.

"Alcohol can definitely be part of a heart-healthy diet if you're drinking responsibly," she said.

"Drinking responsibly," though, might very well mean drinking less than you think, another expert noted.

"Moderate alcohol consumption for women is up to one drink a day, and for men it's two drinks a day," explained Elizabeth Kovacs, director of the alcohol research program at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago. "One drink is 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer or a 1.5 ounce shot of liquor."

Steinbaum pointed out that people should be especially careful when ordering a glass or two of wine at a restaurant because they're often far larger than one serving size.

Kovacs added that "the benefits of alcohol are pretty restricted, and it's only beneficial if you drink at a low level, you don't take certain medications, you don't have liver or pancreas disease and you're not pregnant."

And, the experts agreed, none of the benefits of alcohol are reason enough to start drinking.

"If you don't already drink, don't start drinking for its health benefits," Steinbaum said. "You can eat a heart-healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, and get a benefit, too. You don't have to have alcohol to protect your heart."

The Bad

Though a small amount of alcohol can help the heart, more is not better, Steinbaum stressed. Alcohol can raise the levels of triglyceride, a harmful fat found in the blood, she said, and it can also lead to higher blood pressure.

Some people also are prone to a condition called holiday heart syndrome, which causes irregular heartbeats when they drink alcohol, though some of them can drink a little without triggering the condition. Steinbaum said she had one patient who knew he couldn't have more than two martinis or he would have an irregular heartbeat.

Excess alcohol consumption can also lead to weight gain, Steinbaum noted, and alcohol can be detrimental to the kidneys and liver as well, particularly for people taking certain medications, such as statins to lower cholesterol or even over-the-counter acetaminophen (Tylenol) to relieve pain.

In addition, recent studies have linked alcohol consumption to an increased risk for certain cancers, asthma and allergies. Alcohol can also be a problem for people who take blood sugar-lowering medications, such as insulin, because it can cause blood sugar levels to drop unpredictably, and to potentially dangerously low levels.

The Ugly

Some of the worst outcomes from alcohol consumption, however, include abuse and addiction, binge drinking, drinking while pregnant, alcohol poisoning, brain damage, increased violent behavior and driving under the influence.

"Alcohol increases the chance of a motor vehicle accident, violence against others, inadvertent violence against oneself, spread of sexually transmitted diseases, unplanned pregnancies, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and becoming dependent on alcohol," Kovacs said.

She noted that alcohol plays a role in one-third of all car crashes and, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it's a factor in two-thirds of the incidents of intimate-partner violence.

"It's important that people are informed about the effects of alcohol on their body so they can be prepared to not drink, or to drink responsibly," said Kovacs. "The benefits of alcohol consumption are very minimal compared to the risks."

More information

The American Heart Association has more on the cardiovascular effects of alcohol consumption.

To read about the risks that alcohol can pose to people with diabetes click here.

SOURCES: Suzanne Steinbaum, M.D., director of women and heart disease at Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Elizabeth Kovacs, Ph.D., director of the alcohol research program, Loyola University Medical Center, Chicago


'/>"/>
Copyright©2012 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. You Survived Cancer: Now Pay Attention to Your Overall Health
2. NIH awards $20 million over 5 years to train next generation of global health researchers
3. Weill Cornell Medical College establishes Center for Healthcare Informatics and Policy
4. Esophageal Cancer Surgery Can Leave Lingering Health Problems, Study Says
5. Climate Change Could Be Tough on Seniors Health: Study
6. Supporting LGB children may influence their long-term health, BU study finds
7. U.S. Spends Too Little on Public Health Initiatives: Report
8. Optimal care of bariatric surgery patients vital for long-term health and well-being
9. Timing pregnancy an important health concern for women
10. Unique approach needed to accurately assess health of young adult cancer survivors
11. Social ties have mixed impact on encouraging healthy behaviors in low-income areas
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
The Health Benefits, and Risks, of Alcohol
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... ProVest ... the greater Dallas, Miami, and Raleigh regions, is organizing an extended charity drive ... rare and deadly chromosome abnormality. , After struggling since birth with several health ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... IL (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2017 , ... ... which established the certification process to promote standards of excellence for the field ... Symposium, scheduled for March 22 – 25, 2018 in Orlando, Florida at the ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Many families have long-term insurance ... care insurance companies have a waiver for care if the client has a cognitive ... the family pays for care, is often waived, so the benefits from their insurance ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... ... Talented host, actor Rob Lowe, is introducing a segment ... of "Success Files," which is an award-winning educational program broadcasted on PBS Member ... with passion and integrity. , Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve in the ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... CitiDent ... sleep apnea using cutting-edge Oventus O2Vent technology. As many as 18 million ... by frequent cessation in breathing. Oral appliances can offer significant relief to about ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... Oct. 12, 2017 West Pharmaceutical Services, ... solutions for injectable drug administration, today announced that it ... opens on Thursday, October 26, 2017, and will follow ... business expectations at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time. To participate ... (International). The conference ID is 94093362. ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... 2017  NDS received FDA 510(k) clearance in May 2017 for ... stand specifically designed for endoscopy environments. An innovative secondary monitor solution, ... solution to support the improvement of patient outcomes, procedural efficiency, and ... ... ...
(Date:10/4/2017)... 2017  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ... PhysicianOne Urgent Care is helping communities across Massachusetts , ... by offering no-cost* flu shots through the end of the month. ... insurance regulations. ... get a flu shot is by the end of October, according to ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: