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Explained: The risk of drinking alcohol

2017-02-17T15:22:11.113+0000 Martin Stima

How much is too much when it comes to alcohol?

A large number of studies have shown that moderate alcohol intake can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in both men and women.

Moderate drinking means one drink a day for women and one to two for men, says Donald Novey, MD (an integrative medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge).

Dr. Novey explains, “The difference in the amounts is due to how men and women metabolize alcohol.”

Too much alcohol can result in serious health consequences.

Heavy alcohol intake can damage the liver, causing cirrhosis, a fatal disease. Excessive drinking can also raise blood pressure and damage the heart, and is linked to many different cancers, including mouth, esophagus, prostate, breast and colorectal cancers. The health risks are even greater for the people who not only drink but also smoke as well.

The consequences of excessive drinking can be fatal not only for the alcoholic, but also for their family, friends, and even innocent bystanders.

 According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, more than 16,000 people die each year in automobile accidents that involved drunken drivers. Other data indicates that a third of violent crimes involves the use of alcohol and as many as three out of four violent incidents against a spouse involve alcohol.

“Alcohol is a depressant and it makes people sad over time, not happy,” Novey says. When depressed, people can do some rather unfortunate things to themselves and their loved ones.