Drinking Alcohol: The Health Pros and Cons

Barrel and glass of alcohol.

Today, alcohol is the second deadliest drug in the United States, after tobacco (Source 1). It’s also the most legal drug. Although alcohol is famous for breaking social barriers, it can also have serious consequences on the body and mind.

Let’s review the pros and cons of alcohol being legal.

Pro#1: drinking alcohol protects your heart

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has confirmed that alcohol – again, in moderation – can reduce the risk of heart disease (Source 2). The article defines moderate drinking as the consumption of fewer than three standard drinks per day.  A standard drink is equivalent to approximately 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine, or 1.5 oz of distilled spirits, each of which contains approximately 0.5 oz of alcohol.

Pro#2: drinking alcohol cuts down on other risks as well

According to the study conducted by American Diabetes Association, men who drink alcohol only occasionally appear to reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 25% (Source 3). The researchers found indications that increased alcohol consumption to moderate levels was associated with an improved measure of the average blood glucose level.

Pro#3: drinking alcohol helps to prevent the common cold

Two bottles of beer (alcohol) in the snow.

Even though smokers are more susceptible to the common cold, moderate drinking individuals who do not smoke experience a decrease on common cold cases (Source 4). Scientists discovered that drinking 8-14 glasses of red wine a week could actually lower the risk of developing a cold by as much as 60%.

Pro#4: drinking alcohol can lower the risk of developing gallstones

Drinking one unit of alcohol per day reduces the risk of developing gallstones by a full 1/3, the researchers at the University of East Anglia have found. To come to such a conclusion, the investigators measured the dietary habits of 25,639 men and women and followed them for a 10-year period, during which only 267 patients developed gallstones (Source 5).

Con#1: drinking alcohol overdoing it with alcohol

Now, it’s time to face some ugly facts, too. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are at least 39 million adults in the United States who drink too much, but only one out of six of them have discussed their drinking problems with any kind of health professional (Source 6). With an average cost of a drink being two to five dollars, gaining alcohol addiction is easier than one might think.

Con#2: consuming alcohol heavy drinking deteriorates skin

Each time you consume alcohol, it dehydrates your skin – your body’s largest organ. Drinking too much deprives the skin of vital vitamins and nutrients. Hence, over time, heavy drinking can leave permanent marks on your skin, such as deep wrinkles and facial disfigurement.

Con#3: There are a lot of calories in alcohol

Alcohol drinks contain an excessive amount of empty calories with no nutritional value. For example, one 12 oz of standard beer contains about 160 calories while a glass of white wine can have as much as 300 calories. If people consume a few alcoholic drinks per week on top of their regular diet, it can quickly put them on the path of obesity. Moreover, the calories found in the alcohol do not satisfy hunger. In fact, they stimulate hunger, so the individual ends up eating more than normal on top of the calories consumed in the drink.

Con #4: it increases crime rates

Drinking alcohol and driving.

It’s common knowledge that alcohol can impair good judgment. Most of the illogical and embarrassing moments happen when people overdrink. But drinking also causes crime. Some of the most common alcohol-related crimes involve cases of drinking and driving. In 2015 alone, 10,265 people died in alcohol-impaired driving cases, accounting for nearly 29% of all traffic-related deaths in the United States (Source 7). However, there are a variety of other offenses that can result from alcohol abuse, such as robbery, sexual assault, child abuse and homicide.

Conclusion

From all the studies, it is evident that the key to the whole legalization of alcohol lies within the moderation of its consumption. As long as you are a responsible drinker, you will be able to get the benefits and avoid the negative impact that alcoholism brings.

If yourself or someone else you know suffers from alcohol addiction, consider seeking help at an alcohol rehab center. Doctors there transform lives of every individual and family member that walks through their doors. Along the recovery path, teens and adults restore hope in themselves which has been shattered by substance abuse.  

Alcohol consumption with a group.

Sources

 

  1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/08/19/alcohol-is-still-the-deadliest-drug-in-the-united-states-and-its-not-even-close/?utm_term=.c33fd50a8f17
  2. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh23-1/15-24.pdf
  3. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/28/3/719
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3533961/
  5. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090601090035.htm
  6. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/aag/alcohol.htm
  7. https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html

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