Telehealth video appointments now available in all of our states UT, ID, WA, OR, NV, AZ & FL!

Light Alcohol Intake is Risky After All

alcohol in glasses

Light Alcohol Intake is Risky After All


Experts have always told us that light to moderate alcohol consumption may promote better heart health. In fact, observational analysis showed that light/moderate drinkers had the lowest risk of heart disease.

A more recent study also suggested that alcohol abstinence increases a person's chance of depression.

But what both studies failed to prove was "causation." There's no evidence that alcohol abstinence causes heart disease or depression, neither is there proof that consuming alcohol prevents heart disease or depression.

Here's what we know. Light-to-moderate drinkers generally have a healthier lifestyle than people who don't drink at all, so their better cardiovascular and mental health may result from other lifestyle choices rather than their alcohol consumption. Their good health is not a result of drinking.

In fact, the idea that light-to-moderate alcohol use is beneficial is a myth. A large study showed that all levels of alcohol intake are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. Light alcohol intake slightly increases the risk of heart diseases. The risks vary, with heavier consumption leading to higher risks.

But that's not all. It gets worse. Light or moderate drinking, even as light as one drink per day can cause shrinking of the brain. The older you get, the stronger the negative impact alcohol has on your brain.

For example, when a 50-year-old drinks half a beer or a glass of wine daily, the changes in the brain can amount to aging by 2 years. You don't want to look or feel much older than your age now.

Note: One standard drink is equivalent to 14 grams of alcohol, which is equivalent to one bottle of beer or a two-thirds glass of wine.

What amount of alcohol is safe?

From all indications, there's no health benefit to gain from any amount of alcohol, not even light alcohol. Granted, you might feel more relaxed and open in social situations, thanks to alcohol. But don't expect it to cure or prevent depression, stress, PTSD, or heart disease. Even when you feel good for a moment, the long-term impact of alcohol use are grave.

If you can't avoid drinking, it would be best to keep it within one drink every other day. But it's in your best interest to avoid it altogether.

Although the current government recommendation is one drink a day for women and two daily for men, research shows that even these "moderate" amounts puts your health at risk in the long-term.

And if you do drink, engage in healthy lifestyle practices to at least buffer the effect.

Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

You Might Also Enjoy...