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In 1991, the CBS news program 60 Minutes ran a story called "The French Paradox" which suggested that drinking alcohol, or at least red wine, reduced the risk of heart disease. Many people considered this a medical recommendation to drink. Moderate drinking may have some benefits, but it are also carries increased health risks.
A "drink" is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor.
What is "moderate drinking"?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services define moderate drinking as no more than:
one drink a day for women and people over 60
two drinks a day for men (and no more than one a hour).
A daily rather than weekly amount is suggested. It's healthier to drink a small amount daily than to binge (more than 4 drinks for men, more than 3 for women) on weekends or special occasions.
Source: Bofetta, P, and Garfinkel, L. "Alcohol drinking and mortality among men enrolled in an American Cancer Society prospective study." Epidemiology 1:342-348, 1990.
When considering moderate drinking for health benefits, it's important to weight the risks along with the benefits. The Department of Health and Human Services does not recommend that nondrinkers or infrequent drinkers start drinking regularly to lower their risk of cardiovascular disease. Vulnerability to alcohol-related problems is not always predictable. Proper diet and exercise are safer alternatives.
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