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Health Dangers of Alcohol Consumption

IMG_0181Researchers have linked alcohol consumption to more than 60 diseases, even in those who are moderate drinkers. Moderate drinking is up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. What constitutes a drink can be found here.

For more detailed information on Alcohol Drinking Levels Defined click here.

Cancer linked to alcohol use include the mouth, pharynx (throat), larynx (voice box), esophagus, liver, breast, and colorectal region; cirrhosis, depression, gout, anemia, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, thiamine deficiency, infectious disease since alcohol suppresses the immune function, nerve damage (including incontinence and erectile dysfunction), pancreatitis.

In addition to theses disease, heavy drinking speeds the shrinkage of certain regions in the brain, resulting in memory loss and other symptoms of dementia.

Studies with animals show that high doses of alcohol lead to a disruption in the growth of new brain cells; scientists believe it may be this lack of new growth that results in the long–term deficits found in key areas of the brain (such as hippocampal structure and function).

Long–term heavy drinking may lead to shrinking of the brain and deficiencies in the fibers (white matter) that carry information between brain cells (gray matter).

High-resolution images of the brain have revealed that binge drinking causes some visible, physical changes to the brain. The more drinks you have the more your pre-frontal cortex is thinned. If you stop binge drinking you may find that your ability to pay attention, plan, make decisions, process emotions and control your impulses will improve.

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What is Moderate Alcohol Consumption?

“According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as having up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. This definition is referring to the amount consumed on any single day and is not intended as an average over several days. The Dietary Guidelines also state that it is not recommended that anyone begin drinking or drink more frequently on the basis of potential health benefits because moderate alcohol intake also is associated with increased risk of breast cancer, violence, drowning, and injuries from falls and motor vehicle crashes.” Source: http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/faqs.htm#moderateDrinking

In general one drink is defined as:

  • One 12 oz. beer or wine cooler or cider
  • One shot of 80 Proof liquor or
  • One 4-5 oz glass of wine
  • 8-9 oz. of malt liquor
  • 2-3 oz. of liqueur, cordial or apertif
  • 1.5 oz. of spirits (brandy, whiskey, gin, vodka, etc.)
  • 3-4 oz. of sherry or port

The above examples are approximate because many brands and types of alcoholic beverages vary in actual alcohol content. Check the label for percentage of alcohol content.

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