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LEARN: DRINKING IN MODERATION: WHAT EXACTLY DOES THAT MEAN?

You’ve probably heard that drinking in moderation is okay. You may have heard that a glass or two of red wine a day is even good for you. But what does it really mean to drink in moderation and is it the same for everyone?

According to government health agencies like the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the American Medical Association, moderate drinking is defined as no more than 2 standard drinks per day (or no more than 14 drinks per week) for men under the age of 65 and not more than 1 drink per day (or no more than 7 per week) for women. So, what’s a standard drink?

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 1.5 ounces of liquor​
  • 5 ounces of wine

You may have noticed that the definitions of moderate drinking are different depending on gender and age. That isn’t because researchers are being discriminatory. It’s because biology makes a difference in how your body processes alcohol. Women have lower limits than men because they absorb more alcohol into the bloodstream, resulting in higher blood alcohol levels and more rapid intoxication.

For men, after they reach the age of 65, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends that they have no more than one drink per day because metabolism, the process of your body converting food and drink into energy, slows with age.

Also, people who have a personal or family history of alcohol problems or have problems with mental illness, such as a mood or anxiety disorder, should be more cautious when it comes to drinking.

Finally, people with certain medical conditions such as liver disease should not drink. The liver is the primary site where your body breaks down alcohol so if your liver is already not functioning well, alcohol can make things worse. And for those who are at risk for certain types of cancer (mouth, esophagus, pharynx, larynx, liver, and breast), alcohol can increase your risk.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism offers information to help you understand how alcohol impacts your health:

http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Hangovers/beyondHangovers.pdf

If you’re going to drink, make sure you do so in moderation and that you know the risks to your health.​​