How Much Booze Is Good For You?

Light Drinking Helps Health -- but a Little Too Much Is Far Worse Than None

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on September 04, 2007
From the WebMD Archives

Sept. 4, 2007 -- Light drinking helps heart health. But more than one drink a day for women and more than two daily drinks for men are harmful.

That's the bottom line from a state-of-the-art review of drinking and health by University of Missouri cardiologist James H. O'Keefe, MD, and colleagues.

The researchers note that study after study shows health benefits for moderate drinking. These benefits appear to come not from the type of alcohol, but from the alcohol itself.

That's been seen as terrific news for tipplers. If a little is good, wouldn't a little more be better? No, O'Keefe and colleagues assert. More is not only not better -- it's harmful. Just a little too much is worse than none at all.

And binge drinking, the researchers say, is harmful even for otherwise light drinkers.

A drink may be smaller than you think. O'Keefe and colleagues say a drink is a 12-ounce bottle of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled liquor which all have between 13 and 15 grams of alcohol.

Despite the health benefit of moderate alcohol consumption, the researchers warn doctors against advising people to drink.

"Sobering statistics warn that moderate daily drinking is a slippery slope that many individuals cannot safely navigate," they note.

O'Keefe and colleagues report their findings in the Sept. 11 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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SOURCES: O'Keefe, J.H. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Sept. 11, 2007; vol 50: pp 1009-1014.

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