Limiting Drinking to 1 drink is Good for health
If you choose to have an alcoholic drink, confining yourself to one a day is best whether you’re a man or woman.
That’s the new information experts are recommending for the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are registered to be updated later this year for the first time in five years. The guidelines now say men should limit themselves to two drinks a day, and that women should limit themselves to one. That advice has been in place since 1990.
In a report published last week, a committee of specialists noted there isn’t adequate proof to support different alcohol recommendations for men and women, and that research maintains tightening the limit for men. U.S. health agencies that issue dietary guidelines aren’t required to adopt the committee’s support.
“As a nation, our collective health would be better if people generally drank less,” said Dr. Timothy Naimi, an alcohol researcher at Boston University and one of the experts on the committee convened by federal officials.
A specific volume of Alcohol needed
The offered advice shouldn’t be construed to mean that not having a drink on Thursday means you can have two on Friday, Naimi said. One drink is the equivalent of about one 12-ounce can of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, or a shot of liquor.
The advice is based on links that researchers observed between drinking habits and all causes of death, including heart disease, cancer, and car accidents, rather than specific physical harm that alcohol might have. Such observational studies, common in food and nutrition science, do not establish a cause-and-effect relationship but they are often the best evidence available, so experts use them to give guidance.
With alcohol, Naimi said that two drinks a day were connected with an improved risk of death connected with one drink a day. He said the increase was modest but notable enough for the committee to recommend updating the advice.
Whether the proposed new advice would influence behavior isn’t clear. Many Americans already exceed the current advice on alcohol limits, Naimi noted. Still, he said most people could generally benefit from any reduction in alcohol, even if they’re not within the advised limits.
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