• Kellie Blake RDN,LD,IFNCP

Are You Drinking Too Much Alcohol?



April is Alcohol Awareness Month! While it may seem like a natural part of our lives, when consumed irresponsibly, alcohol can be problematic for health and interpersonal relationships. In fact, alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States.


Mild to moderate alcohol consumption means consuming one serving of alcohol per day for women and one to two servings for men.


One serving equals:

  • 1.5 ounces of liquor

  • 12 ounces of beer

  • 5 ounces of wine

In moderation, there are some potential health benefits such as:

  • Reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes

  • Increased longevity

  • Improved blood lipid profiles

  • Reduced risk of stroke, Alzheimer’s and senile dementia


But despite some health-promoting compounds such as polyphenols found in wine, the American Institute for Cancer Research has found “there is no safe amount of alcohol that does not increase risk of at least some cancers.” And research has consistently shown that those with heavy alcohol consumption or even 1 episode of binge drinking (4 or more drinks in 2 hours for women or 5 or more drink in 2 hours for men) are at greater risk for:


  • Mood, behavior, and brain communication pathway change

  • Cardiomyopathy, high blood pressure, stroke, and arrhythmias

  • Fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis

  • Pancreatitis

  • Cancers of the head and neck, esophagus, liver, breast, and colon

  • Immune system dysfunction

Unfortunately, for many, drinking alcohol is a coping mechanism. Drinking has increased, especially in those with depression and anxiety, over the past couple of years related to the COVID-19 pandemic.






An increase in alcohol use puts you at risk for developing Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). AUD means you are unable to stop drinking alcohol despite social, occupational, and medical consequences.


In 2019, 14.1 million American adults suffered from AUD. And one study from the Washington University School of Medicine found 9.3% or 11 million full-time workers met the criteria for AUD. Those with severe AUD miss an average of 32 days of work per year representing 14.1% of total workplace absences.


Think about the following questions from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as they relate to the past year, if you answer yes to two or more of these, you should seek professional help:


1. Did you end up drinking more or for longer than you intended?

2. Did you try to cut down or stop drinking, but couldn’t?

3. Did you spend a lot of time drinking? Or did you spend a lot of time feeling poorly due to drinking alcohol?

4. Did you want a drink so bad you couldn’t think of anything else?

5. Did drinking or being hung-over affect your ability to take care of your family or perform at work?

6. Did you continue drinking even though it was causing problems with your friends or family?

7. Did you give up activities you liked in order to drink?

8. Did you get into situations while or after drinking where you could have gotten hurt physically?

9. Did you continue to drink even though it made you more depressed or anxious?

10. Did you have to drink more than usual to feel the desired effect?

11. Did you have withdrawal symptoms when the effects of alcohol were wearing off?


If you or someone you know seems to be struggling with alcohol, visit this website Rethinking Drinking Homepage - NIAAA (nih.gov) or seek professional help.


If you want to learn more about using nutrition and lifestyle to improve your quality of life, contact us at nutrisensenutrition@yahoo.com.


Sources:

1. Alcohol's Effects on the Body | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) (nih.gov)


2. COVID-19 pandemic brings new concerns about excessive drinking | American Heart Association


3. Drinking During COVID-19 Up Among People with Anxiety and Depression (nyu.edu)


4. In U.S., alcohol use disorder linked to 232 million missed workdays annually: Workplace absenteeism related to alcohol likely worsened during pandemic -- ScienceDaily


5. Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) (nih.gov)


6. Alcohol and Cancer: A Statement of the American Society of Clinical Oncology | Journal of Clinical Oncology (ascopubs.org)


7. Alcohol: Drinking Increases Cancer Risk - American Institute for Cancer Research (aicr.org)



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