'Tis the season to pass the bubbly and cheers to a spirited new year for many Americans. But, what if you keep up the habit beyond the holidays? How many drinks are safe throughout the week?
Women should have no more than one drink per day and men no more than two, according to Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This isn't necessarily a weekly recommendation of 7 to 14 drinks. Also, Dietary Guidelines doesn't recommend anyone who doesn't drink should start drinking.
Based on per capita consumption from alcoholic beverage sales data, the average American drinks roughly 1.35 drinks per day, 9.5 drinks per week and 494 drinks per year, said Aaron White, senior scientific advisor to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism director. But, White said that number is higher — 1.94 drinks a day, 13.6 per week and 705 a year when adjusting for age (looking at just adults 18 and older, the majority of the nation's drinkers).
Stuart Gitlow, past president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, said anyone with a family history of alcoholism or past problems with addiction shouldn’t have any alcoholic drinks.
For others, he said any dose isn’t really good for you, but there are safer amounts.
“An amount sufficient to feel it is not something you want to do on a daily basis," Gitlow said. "Once a week is probably fine, but more than that you are starting to get to a point where you are increasing your risks. The smaller the amount of alcohol, the smaller the risks.”
The American Society of Clinical Oncology, made up some of the nation's top cancer doctors, has said limiting alcoholic drinks is important for cancer prevention. The American Cancer Institute for Cancer Research links drinking to an increased risk of a host of cancers, including breast cancer. While even moderate amounts of alcohol can increase cancer risk, the Institute says moderate alcohol — no more than one drink a day for women and two for men — could protect against coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Nearly half of liver disease deaths involve alcohol, according to 2015 data from the NIAAA.
Alcohol use causes about 88,000 deaths annually, the NIAAA notes, making it the third leading preventable cause of death in the U.S.
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