When it comes to your health, knowing where to draw the line on how much alcohol is safe to drink can be tricky. Most people know that abusing alcohol is bad and that over time alcohol abuse can have a negative impact on your health, not to mention your wallet. What about all those studies that say drinking can be good for you? Is there any truth to them? How much alcohol, if any, is the right amount to drink and stay healthy?
The bad news first
According to a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2008, heavy drinking is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Not surprisingly, the cumulative effects of consistently having a few too many drinks can lead to several serious chronic conditions. Besides cirrhosis of the liver, you could end up with dementia, cardiovascular problems, stroke, high blood pressure or depression.
Don’t forget the beer belly. It’s no myth that a drinking problem can lead to a weight problem. Besides the calories contained in the drinks themselves, alcohol is also an appetite stimulant.
Unfortunately, when it comes to drinking, there is no one-size-fits-all plan that everyone can follow for optimum health. How much you can drink is determined by your current health issues, your family history and your gender.
Men, Women and the Bottle
It may not be fair, but it’s a fact that alcohol affects the health of men and women differently.
It is common knowledge that a pregnant woman should not drink, but did you know that researchers have found women who drink even as little as one drink a day increase their risk for cancers of the breast, liver, rectum, throat, mouth and oesophagus? Experts across the board agree that a woman with a family history of breast cancer would be well-advised to abstain from drinking altogether.
The good news for men is there is no evidence to suggest that light to moderate drinking will increase their risk of cancer.
Let’s Drink to Your Heart!
There is more good news. As long as there is no history of cancer in your family, your heart could actually benefit from having a drink a day. You may also be glad to know that you aren’t limited to red wine, as many have been led to believe.
Most experts agree that it is the pattern of drinking that has the greatest impact on health and not the particular beverage of choice. Antioxidants like resveratrol are found in higher amounts in red wine, which may be the reason why some doctors might recommend it over other choices.
Of course, if you aren’t already a drinker there is no reason for you to take up the habit. The increased heart health benefits only apply to women over 50 and men over 40. Taking up drinking makes even less sense for a woman when you weigh the limited heart health benefits against the elevated cancer risks.
For light or social drinkers, the great news is that your drinking may protect you against dementia and type 2 diabetes, as well as lead to relaxation and stress reduction. Reduced stress can lead to a positive attitude and studies have shown that people with positive attitudes are happier and healthier over the long run. One study even showed that social drinkers were more likely to exercise regularly, another key factor in maintaining good health.
Light drinkers are in a great position for saving money when it comes to insurance. Many insurers, in an effort to reduce costs related to poor lifestyle habits, are providing savings incentives for their members who want to get healthy.
This means that if you exercise regularly, don’t smoke and drink only moderately, you can save yourself some cold hard cash. Insurance providers know it costs less to insure healthy people, and they are happy to pass the savings on to you.
Of course, no matter what your drinking habits are, you could still be paying more than you have to for your insurance coverage. The best way to ensure you are getting the most for your money is to compare the market online and find the best health insurance cover that suits you the most.
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