Wednesday, November 22, 2017

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Bottom’s Up? Three Reasons Why the Benefits of Drinking Alcohol Just Don’t Outweigh the Risks

Written by  Laura Neff-Henderson, APR

While moderate alcohol use has possible health benefits, it's not risk-free, and the benefits don’t outweigh the risk, according to Mayo Clinic researchers.

Moderate alcohol use is believed to be of most benefit to individuals with existing risk factors for heath heart disease, but even then, researchers advise people to avoid alcohol and take other steps to improve their heart health, including eating a healthy diet and exercising. 

  • Excess Increases Risk: People who drink excessive amounts of alcohol over an extended period of time are more at risk of developing six cancers: colorectal, breast, esophageal, liver, stomach and oral (mouth, larynx and pharynx cancers). About 412,500 people died from an alcohol related cause in 2012 according to the World Health Organization.
  • Alcohol Damages DNA: Like tobacco and radiation, ethanol (commonly referred to as alcohol) is one of 248 known carcinogens according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. Ethanol can cause DNA damage and reduce the body’s ability to absorb cancer-fighting nutrients (like folate and multiple vitamins) making it easier for potential carcinogens to enter cells.
  • A Bad Combination: Combining alcohol with smoking dramatically raises the risk of developing mouth and throat cancers.

A standard alcoholic drink in the United States contains 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. That amounts to about 12 ounces of beer, eight ounces of malt liquor, five ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor. 

Excessive drinkers can reduce their risk by stopping alcohol consumption, but the effects are not immediate. It can take years to undo the damage.Moderate alcohol use for healthy adults means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.

Moderate alcohol use for healthy adults means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.