If you don’t know what “healthy” drinking is, you could be putting your health at risk—and maybe even your relationships and your job. How much alcohol is too much…and how much is OK, maybe even healthful? Take our quiz to find out if your drinking is the healthy kind!
True or False: A drink is a drink—it doesn’t matter whether it’s beer, wine or whisky, one serving means it’s the same amount of alcohol.
One drink is defined by the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans as 14 grams of pure alcohol. That translates into 12 ounces of beer with a 5% alcohol content…five ounces of wine if the alcohol content is 12%...or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits at 40% alcohol. So if you have a beer, that’s 7% alcohol or a glass of wine with a 14%-alcohol content, you’re having more than one drink.
True or False: Alcohol causes liver damage, but it won’t hurt your heart.
Long-term heavy drinking can harm your liver and your heart. Excessive drinking can cause blood vessels to constrict, leading to high blood pressure…trigger abnormal heartbeats, which can lead to dizziness, loss of consciousness, cardiac arrest or death…and damage your heart, causing heart failure—a condition in which your heart can’t pump enough blood to the rest of your body, resulting in trouble breathing, fatigue, swollen feet and legs.
True or False: Having a drink can be good for your health.
In moderation, alcohol may have health benefits. Moderate drinking, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, is no more than two drinks a day for men and one per day for women who aren’t pregnant or trying to conceive. Studies show that moderate drinking can decrease the risk for heart disease and stroke and is associated with reduced risk for diabetes.
True or False: Drinking doesn’t affect your risk for getting cancer.
About 3.5% of all US cancer deaths are alcohol-related. Compared to people who drink moderately or not at all, people who drink excessively are more likely to develop cancers of the head, neck, esophagus, liver, colon and rectum. For women, risk for breast cancer rises as alcohol consumption goes up. Compared with women who don’t drink, those who have more than three drinks a day increase their risk for breast cancer by about 50%. When thinking about whether or how much to drink, you also need to consider other risk factors—such as genetics, if you smoke and your diet.
True or False: All heavy drinkers are alcoholics.
About 70% of US adults drink and about 29% of them drink heavily, but only 3.5% meet the clinical criteria for alcohol use disorder (alcoholism)—which is having at least two of 11 criteria that include increased tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, unsuccessful attempts to cut back or quit, being unable to quit and drinking that interferes with daily activities.
True or False: Some kinds of alcohol are more likely to cause hangovers.
The day-after headache, dry mouth, nausea and other nastiness are caused partly by the dehydrating and other effects of ethanol in alcohol, and partly by congeners—impurities that occur during fermentation. The higher the levels of congeners, the more likely that you’ll get a hangover. Dark-colored alcohol, such as brandy, bourbon and red wine, have the highest levels of congeners, while clear or light-colored drinks, such as vodka, gin, and certain beers, have the least. But congeners aside, drinking too much of any alcohol can still give you a hangover.
True or False: People tend to drink less or even stop as they get older.
The percentage of people age 60 or older who drink alcohol actually has increased by about 1% to 2% every year over the last nearly two decades. That’s about 60% of men and 48% of women age 60 and older. Alcohol use increases the risk seniors already have for balance problems and falls—and, in fact, the National Institutes of Health reports that hip fractures go up among older adults when they drink. Drinking and driving is never a good idea at any age, but older drivers have a greater likelihood of being in a car crash even without alcohol.
What was your healthy drinking score? Whether you knew all the correct answers (congratulations!) or missed a few, learn more ways to keep your drinking part of a healthy lifestyle—including some unexpected effects of alcohol—at BottomLineInc.com.