Two Sides of Alcohol Consumption


There are two sides to alcohol consumption. It acts like a tonic only when consumed moderately, especially as a protection against type 2 diabetes & gallstones. Otherwise, heavy drinking can be equally poisonous damaging our liver & heart in the process. Other bad affects of excessive alcohol consumption include chances of developing breast cancer, alongside triggering depression & violence which invariably destroy relationships.
Ethanol, the active ingredient in alcoholic beverages affects our body in several different ways. While directly influencing brain, heart, stomach, liver & gallbladder it alters levels of insulin, cholesterol & triglycerides within our system; subsequently our sense of coordination & concentration get disturbed along with moods.


Sensible Drinking Patterns

It is not what you drink, but how you drink matters. In fact, heavy drinking on weekends & avoiding during week days is not the same as taking one drink each day. Though the quantum of consumption may be the same, but health implications drastically vary. Research suggests that irrespective of the type of alcohol consumption, regular moderate drinking benefits cardiovascular health. This explicitly explains the “French Paradox”. Despite a diet containing plenty of cheese & butter, the comparative low rate of heart disease in France is an established truth.
Recommended Alcohol Intake

A single drink in the US is generally considered to be 1.5 ounces of hard spirit, or 5.0 ounces of wine or 12 ounces of beer. Each one of these delivers about 12 to 14 grams of alcohol within our system. Although no fixed quantum is universally accepted by researchers, the standards are fairly fluid. Moderate alcohol consumption is more or less a balancing act where health benefits far outweigh risks.
Advantages of Alcohol

All possible health benefits of alcohol consumption strictly depend upon moderate drinking patterns. More than 100 prospective research studies point at an inverse association between moderate alcohol consumption & death from most cardiovascular causes. Consistently moderate consumption seems to reduce risk by 25 to 40 percent.

Disadvantages of Alcohol Consumption

Balance is the key. While many people drink in moderation, quite a few don’t. This is probably the reason why we require the services of substance abuse counselors, mental health professionals, liver specialists & cardiologists. Since alcohol dependence also touches friends, families & communities, it generally disturbs the entire local human environment. As per figures let out by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism & others –

  • Alcohol has a role to play in one of the three cases of violent crime.
  • Over 16,000 people die each year due to alcohol induced automobile accidents,
  • More than $185 billion dollars every year are spent on alcohol abuse,

On the personal level alcohol abuse takes a heavy toll on the victim’s body causing liver inflammation (hepatitis) & scarring (cirrhosis) which are both potentially fatal. Alcohol abuse can increase blood pressure alongside damaging heart muscle. Linked with several cancers, convincing evidence indicates alcohol abuse can cause cancer of the mouth, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, breast colon & rectum. This risk is multiplied manifold for drinkers who also consume tobacco.

Even moderate drinking involves some risks. Alcohol consumption disrupts sleep, clouds judgment & interacts dangerously with several medications. Moreover, it is quite addictive especially for those who have a family history of alcohol abuse.

Bottom Line

Taking into account the complexity of alcohol effects coupled with the behavior of people who consume, blanket recommendations would be preposterous. Each person is unique & enmeshed in family histories, hence the spectrum of risks & benefits vary according to individuals. Whether to consume alcohol or not, even for medicinal purposes requires careful & constant balancing where instances of abuse can be drastically damaging.