When Ramona Richman's older sister was diagnosed with high cholesterol, Richman wasn't worried about her own risk. The San Francisco Bay Area stay-at-home mom had her weight under control and assumed that her diet was healthy. So when her doctor broke the news that she, too, had high cholesterol, she was shocked. Her reading of 269 mg/dL was well over the desirable level of less than 200 mg/dL. "My sister had high cholesterol and went on medication, so I imagine that it's a genetic thing," Richman,...
But before you break out that cocktail shaker, know this: Some doctors aren’t sure if those healthy effects come from the alcohol or from other good lifestyle choices that light drinkers make. So if you don’t drink already, don’t start. Diet and exercise also provide many of the benefits listed above.
Heavy drinking can make you more likely to get serious health problems like liver disease, cancer, and peptic ulcers, among others. Regular or high alcohol use can hurt your heart and lead to diseases of the heart muscle, called cardiomyopathy. Binge drinking can cause irregular heart rhythms called arrhythmias. This is why you can’t save up all your “moderate” doses during the week and then tie one on during the weekend.
Who Shouldn’t Drink?
Alcohol can be harmful for some people. Talk to your doctor if you have one of these conditions and aren’t sure whether you should drink or not:
High blood pressure
Irregular heart rhythm
A history of stroke
Obese people, pregnant women, and anyone with a history of alcoholism should not drink. Certain medications don’t mix well with alcohol. These usually come with a warning sticker from your pharmacy that tells you not to drink while you take them.