Is Alcohol Okay in Moderation?

Research claims that not drinking alcohol at all is the only way to avoid its risks.

A new study reports that there is no amount of alcohol consumption that’s safe for overall health. For years, we have been told that drinking in moderation caused no harm and may even offer some health benefits, but now that may not be the case. The study co-author, Emmanuela Gakidou, a professor of global health and health metrics sciences at the University of Washington, tells TIME, “The evidence is adding up that no amount of drinking is safe. I don’t think we’re going out on a limb to say anything that the data does not support.” Research suggests that health risks are likely to increase the more you drink. Heavy drinking is harmful, but now there is data that supports links between moderate drinking and lower mortality and tuberculosis, which is the leading alcohol-related disease worldwide.

There are risks and benefits for everyone who consumes alcohol, but they depend upon the specific individual. For instance, a glass of red wine a day may lower a woman’s risk of heart disease but increase her risk of breast cancer. Overall, the benefits of alcohol are shown to be net harmful. Dariush Mozaffarian, the Dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, believes that the risks outweigh the benefits for anyone who drinks. Mozaffarian states, “No one should start drinking to prevent heart disease or diabetes. No organization has ever recommended drinking alcohol. The recommendation has been that if you drink – and that’s the key caveat – don’t drink more than moderately.” As research on the effect of alcohol progresses, health care providers may be advising patients not to drink at all rather than simply in moderation.

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