5 Myths about Alcohol

5 Myths about Alcohol

Some call it liquid courage, others call it truth serum. Whatever term of endearment you choose to give your favorite alcoholic beverage, it’s important to understand its effects on the body and mind beyond the classic hangover. The fact is, for as long as humans have been consuming alcohol (about 10,000 years) there’s always been some argument and at times puzzlement about the short and long term consequences of drinking. 

Before you decide where you’ll be enjoying green beer on St. Patrick’s Day, let’s explore 5 of the most persistent myths around booze.

A Couple of Drinks is Moderate Drinking
Most of us consider ourselves to be “moderate” drinkers but what does that even mean? Some studies consider it to be no more than three to four drinks per day, while others suggest it to be less than one drink per day. Although there is no universal definition for the term, the latest consensus suggests that it is no more than two drinks per day for men and no more than one drink per day for women.
In the U.S., one drink is considered to be 1.5 ounces of hard liquor, 5 ounces of wine, or 12 ounces of beer. Often times, drinks prepared at bars contain twice the amount and in some cases even more.
The More I Drink, The More My Body Adapts

From a physiological standpoint, there are numerous differences between female and male anatomy. Women, or persons assigned female at birth, process alcohol differently from men or people assigned male at birth. Those born male have more body water, therefore causing the alcohol to dilute more. Further, those born female produce less of a liver enzyme that breaks down alcohol, causing it to be broken down at a much slower pace.

Research also has found that those born to an alcoholic parent are 4 times more likely to suffer from alcohol issues but it’s also found that many individuals with alcoholism in their family history do not become alcohol dependent.

Another interesting fact is that up to 50% of people of Asian descent have an inactive enzyme that is needed to process alcohol, causing symptoms like headache, nausea, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, among others.

Moderate Drinking Can Benefit Your Health

For years, some have argued that drinking moderately is linked to health benefits but the truth is that the answer to that is somewhat convoluted. Studies show that there is a fairly consistent inverse association between moderate drinking and risk of stroke resulting from a blood clot, heart attack, sudden cardiac arrest, and death from all cardiovascular conditions. This is because moderate amounts of alcohol raise levels of “good” cholesterol, which is associated with greater protection against heart disease. The effect of lower risk of cardiovascular disease extends to both men and women (including older individuals) that haven’t been previously diagnosed with said conditions.

On the other hand, alcohol blocks and inactivates folate in the blood and tissues. It’s possible that alcohol increases risk of breast, colon, and other cancers due to this interaction. However, taking a folate supplement may negate this.

Drinking Once a Week is OK

According to the latest survey by the U.S. National Survey on Drug Use and Health, over 15 million adults 18 and older reported having issues with alcoholism.

It seems that the manner in which you drink carries more significance than what you drink. Enjoying a drink daily isn’t comparable to having 5 drinks on a night out then proceeding to not drinking the rest of the week. Just one night of binge drinking can have physical, visible effects on the body and long term abuse can cause inflammation of the liver and in more serious cases, cirrhosis (scarring of the liver).

Drinking Helps Me Take a Load Off

The relationship between alcohol and mental/emotional conditions, such as depression and anxiety is a complex one. Although, they each seem to increase the risk for the other simultaneously, alcohol abuse may be a stronger factor of cause.

People who suffer from these conditions may abuse alcohol intentionally in order to suppress emotions and improve their overall mood. This may work temporarily but research shows that after the effects of alcohol wear down, symptoms of depression and anxiety increase, creating a potentially life threatening cycle.

The prevalent role that alcohol plays in our everyday life is undeniable. Whether celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, a special occasion or simply trying to take a load off at the end of a long work day, it’s important to consider all of these factors in order to lead a healthy and balanced life. Keep in mind to always discuss any concerns with your medical physician.

Additional sources


2) https://www.brown.edu/campus-life/health/services/promotion/alcohol-other-drugs-alcohol/alcohol-and-your-body

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