Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with a host of major health problems, including increased cancer risk, liver disease, high blood pressure, and the impaired judgment that puts you at risk for accidents and bad behaviour. With alcohol’s high calorie counts, a night of heavy drinking is also healthy diet sabotage. And those head-pounding hangovers are no picnic, either.
Strangely enough, the stats around drinking are not all doom and gloom. Some studies have shown that light to moderate drinking can prolong your life and even improve your memory. So how do you tell where you fall on the spectrum between just enough and too much? Answer these questions to find out:
How many days a week do you drink?
Even if you’re consuming moderate amounts every day, most health agencies still recommend that you abstain from drinking three or four days a week. And make sure that your weekly drink tally doesn’t go above nine.
How many drinks do you have in one sitting?
A “moderate amount for women is defined as no more than one or two drinks at once. In other words, it doesn’t matter if you don’t touch the stuff for the rest of the year “ even occasional binge-drinking is a big health risk.
How do you measure your DIY drinks?
When you’re drinking at home, the eyeball method of bartending may be leaving you (and your guests) with drinks much stronger than you realize, so it can be tricky to tell how many drinks you’ve actually had.
A standard alcoholic beverage is equivalent to half a pint of beer (or 12 oz at 5 percent alcohol), a shot-glass of spirits (or 1.5 oz at 40 percent), or half a glass of wine (or 5 oz at 12 percent). If you’re not sure what these amounts actually look like in your favourite glasses, just do some test runs with a measuring cup and water to get an idea of how high to pour.
Do you have any of the risk factors that make drinking more dangerous?
Although the guidelines for moderate drinking are based on typical people, certain issues may mean that you should follow even stricter guidelines. Factors include weight (if you’re under 50 kg or 110 lbs), sleeping problems, and a family history of heart disease, cancer, or alcoholism.
If you’re on any kind of medication or have any chronic health problems, you should also ask your doctor about how much (if any) alcohol is safe for you.