How Much Alcohol Is Acceptable?

October 26, 2006

5484476551.jpgThe debate on the merits and demerits of drinking alcohol has been with us for centuries.  We drink to have fun, or for some… too much fun!  The question always is how much alcohol is safe for me? Or Can I drink?

So far, more than 100 prospective studies show that drinking alcohol in MODERATION can lower the risk of heart attack, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, and sudden cardiac death by as much as 20% to 40%.  These heart benefits we all know are the reasons why we drink!

However the risks associated with alcohol intake begin to exceed benefits until middle age, when cardiovascular disease begins to account for increasingly large share of the burden of disease and death.  The Harvard Health Study Group has given these guidelines as follows:

  • For a person with liver disease, and people taking one or more medications that interact with alcohol, moderate drinking offers little benefit and potential risks.
  • For a 30-year-old man, the increased risk of alcohol-related accidents outweighs the possible heart-related benefits of moderate alcohol consumption.
  • For a 60-year-old man, a drink a day may offer protection against heart disease that is likely to outweigh potential harm (assuming he isn’t prone to alcoholism).
  • For a 60-year-old woman, the benefit/risk calculations are trickier. More than ten times as many women die each year from heart disease than breast cancer! However, studies show that women are far more afraid of developing breast cancer than heart disease, something that must be factored into the equation.

So what’s moderate drinking? That’s 1-2 drinks a day. 

and What’s a Drink?  Its….12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of spirits (hard liquor such as gin or whiskey).  Each of the them delivers about 12 to 14 grams of alcohol.

Yes…You can drink… but my recommendation is:

Drink in Moderation! 

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38 Responses to “How Much Alcohol Is Acceptable?”

  1. maxim Says:

    Doc, is there a direct correlation to drinking alcohol and obesity? Is a bottle of beer a day could make a pot belly?

    • pushpa Says:

      I’m married women, aged 45 yrs. I had uterus removal operation 6 months ago. I drink beer/alcohol daily with my husband. Sometimes beer (super strong 1 bottle) or 2 pegs of whisky. I would like to know is it harmful for my health. Is is OK to continue drinking daily or not? I always hv headace and also hig BP problem. Pl answer my query asap. Thanks.
      Pushpa

  2. Doc Gerry Says:

    Great question Max… but Beer belly is a myth: it is the physical trait where there is an overhang of fat in the abdominal area. It s a myth that beer is responsible for it as anything that increases weight can cause beer belly. The only source of calories of beer is alcohol and carbohydrate and as a result it does not cause enough weight gain to be responsible for the belly appearance. In fact the calorie count of 1 beer is less than that of a cola.

  3. maxim Says:

    Thanks for this information Doc. One myth discarded from my system.

  4. stella Says:

    My husband drinks 3 or 4 day in a week.
    Everytime he consumes minimum of 350-450ml of wisky/brandy/rum.
    I want to know how far it will affect his health.
    I tried max to stop him drinking, but finally I lost hope.

  5. Doc Gerry Says:

    Stella… alcohol can kill the liver, cause obesity if consumed many and affect his health that can lead to diabetes, hypertension because they contain empty calories, may interact with medications and if he is on oral medicatins to control blood sugar, drinking alcohol may cause hypoglycemia.

    Ask his doctor for help to convince him to stop.

  6. Dill Says:

    “So what’s moderate drinking? That’s 1-2 drinks a day. ”

    Doc, so if you do this for 365 days, drinking 2 drinks a day, I’ll be fine right?

  7. Doc Gerry Says:

    as long as you are healthy having a healthy lifestyle and doing well.

  8. muzicmn Says:

    I drink around 3-4 nights a week and I have about 3 drinks a night with roughly 1.5 ounces of liq in each drink with soda and juice which then makes the entire drink (juice/soda/liq) about 8 ounces. I am also on sertraline of 25mg. Can this cause a liver damage? I am only 29 and I eat salads and I am rougly in shape.

  9. chirag Says:

    so doc,I’m little confused with what u have prescribed for 30 yr man and to dill…

    How good or bad is moderate drinking for a 30 year old man without any heart problem till now? Exactly what is the impact on liver and diabetes?

  10. Doc Gerry Says:

    1-2 drinks of beer has not been shown to harm the liver. However if you are on maintenance medications where most of these drugs go to the liver to be metabolized then I would recommend limiting it to occsaional drinks rather than daily.

    Likewise, I strongly avoid alcohol of any amount to any of my pt with diabetes or metabolic syndrome who almost always have a fatty liver to start with to avoid the development of cirrhosis.

  11. chirag Says:

    thanks doctor, so should we assume a glass of wine or whiskey a day in modest proportions is also fairly harmless so long as there’s no heart or liver problem fr a 30 yr old

  12. Doc Gerry Says:

    the typical U.S. standard recommnedation of what is moderate drinking is: up to two daily drinks for men and one for women.

    A standard drink is 12 ounces of regular beer, 8 ounces of malt liquor, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor.

  13. Doug Says:

    seeing that 1.5 ounces of liquor is one drink and that there are 1.5 ounces in a shot, is it fine to have 2 shots a day of vodka?

  14. Doc Gerry Says:

    I would not say it is fine comletely especially that vodka has a high alcohol content that can be up to 40%. So maybe a shot should be pretty acceptable.

  15. MARY M Says:

    Me and my husband drink a bottle of red wine every day with dinner (except Sundays and Mondays) and when I don’t drink wine I drink 2 gins with tonic (1 oz each one)… is this too much?

  16. ltoso Says:

    Hello doc,
    very knowledgeable article, you have written in your article above that one can have 360Ml(12 ounce)( of light beer or 45 Ml(1.5 Ounce) of whisky daily every day of the month and that will be safe,

    but will it be alright if you have 1000Ml of beer on any one day of the week or 300ml of whisky any one day of the week, will it be safe for the liver or health

  17. rohit Says:

    i am drinking daily 2 to 3 30ml pegs daily from last 3 months plz let me no is this is harmful 4 me or what.

    4 ur infrmation i am healthy nd tking healthy diet.

    plz reply

    • Ansh Says:

      Rohit, he already explained what is harmful and what’s not. I guess, you are aiming for an answer for someone to tell you that it’s ok to drink 2-3 drinks everyday. We both know that you also know, that its not ok. Also consider the social effects of 2-3 drinks a day. I don’t think you can live without it. And after that, I don’t think you become more likeable a person. Limit it to one drink a day. and 2-3 drinks on friday night.

  18. Prashant Tiwari Says:

    Sir, this is prashant tiwari from INDIA, sir i use to drinks 320 ml of whiskey every night and i want to know is there any harm to my body by this? as i m a medical student i read that only 20%-30% alcoholicics liver cirrhosis.

  19. Prashant Tiwari Says:

    sorry… only 20%-30% alcoholic gets liver cirrhosis. is it true???

    • Ansh Says:

      Prashant, I don’t think you’re dodging the 20-30% rate of liver cirrhosis, I think being a medical student, you know other physical & mental problems associated with alchohol. I think many medical students dont make alchohol a part of their life, coz they prefer to be on the other side of the health problems, i.e treating them. You need to root for the causes that are making you drink those copious amounts of alchohol, eradicate the causes & you eradicate the problem, i think that’s a valid medical treatment. Remember, one drink is enough to say cheers, and I’m sure being in india you guy’s have access to tandoori murga to say bon apetit. I Don’t.

  20. Milind Says:

    Hello,i m milind i am from India.i drink 360ml wisky per week.180ml on tuesday &180ml on sat.i want to know is that harmful for my helth.i am 34 years old man.pl.replay.


  21. Aparna Sharma

    Hi doc,
    My husband drinking 450-500ml whisky in a week vvd heavy starters n dinner plz let me no is this is harmful 4 him or what.He is 31 year old.

    plz reply.


  22. Hi doc,
    My husband drinking 450-500ml whisky in a week vd heavy starters n dinner plz let me know is this harmful 4 him or what.He is 31 year old.

    plz reply

  23. Kevin Says:

    Dear Doc,
    I have been drinking atleast 360 ml of brandy since the last 4-5 years everyday.. i was normal all the while until lately im experiencing breathlessness in the mornings and sometimes can fell my heartbeat.. just want to know that, is this because of my drinking.. im 6ft tall n weigh 83 kilos.. and how much amount of drinking is adviced further..
    Your suggestion will be highly appreciated, Kindly reply..

    • Doc Gerry Says:

      Hi Kevin… your shortness of breath maybe related to your poor lifestyle habits. Your heart is unconditioned. Any small amount of activity your heart has to pump with effort whcih is not good becuase you are overworking the heart. Get up the couch…stop drinking and move

  24. kevin Says:

    And also im 27 year old, since a year, i have not been working out or swimming, and not doing any kind of physical exercise..

  25. Aditya Nagpal Says:

    Hello Doctor!
    I am 24 years of age and i drink about 230 ml of whisky or rum every saturda.(every weekend).
    Am I within acceptable limits of alcohol?

    • Kishore T Says:

      Aditya,
      I am not a doctor – but this is my answer from experience –
      I am 43 years old – and was drinking 200 ml of whiskey on week-ends when I was your age – but slowly that became 2 times a week and suddenly it was EVERYDAY !! – ‘if’ you are 100% sure that throughout your life you will drink ONLY on week-ends , 230ml is certainly acceptable.

  26. aishwarya Says:

    hii dr. garry i am 23 yrs old and i am drinking daily 180 ml hard drink from last 2 yrs and i go to gym regularly but i am feeling weakness when i drink from last 6-7 days and also i am feeling acidity so plzz tell me what should i do plzz sir plzz

  27. suhas Says:

    hi doc i am 45years old i drink 120 ml whiskey everyday since 15years pls let me know how much its harmful i have only bld prsre but its in controlled by herbal medicine

  28. gautam Says:

    any kind of drink hard or soft to be avoided. Persons asking such questions are ,probably,trying to cosole their guilt of drinking after getting some remarks in favour of drinking. No,it is always a no no for any benefit to heart patients

  29. arash Says:

    Hi
    1- I drink 80 ml whiskey 3 times a week, makes 240 for a week,is it safe? I am 42 & from last year I had some problem on erection , is it alcohol side effects?
    2- drink cocktails ( i mean the same amount of alcohol 80 ml mix with soda 0r juices ) is safer than drink pure whiskey?
    3- drink 80 ml in one hour & a half is safe?

  30. arash Says:

    I drink 2 units (90 cc) vodka or whiskey before dinner with some nuts.someone said you must drink after dinner,which way is better generally?

  31. jessica Says:

    My mother in law is 60 years old and she drinks about a bottle in a half of red wine a day which is 12 percent by volume and she barely eats, I don’t even think she eats close to 1000 calories a day. I just want to know how much longer she is expected to live if she continues doing this. And she has probably been doing this everyday for over ten years?????


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