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In this article we will try to address and clarify issues concerning the health benefits of taking alcohol and the implications of excessive drinking. Writing from experience the big question here is, when it comes to alcohol, how much is too much? What do the experts recommend? and how to recognize the signs that you are drinking too much. 

Have you ever felt the need to cut down on your drinking? Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking habits? Have you ever felt guilty about drinking too much of alcohol? Have you ever had an alcoholic drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover?

If the answer to any one of the above questions is yes you probably need some professional help and could sign up into the nearest Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) meetings in your locality or persons who were formerly alcohol addicts and have been able to control their drinking habits. It is best to learn from those who talk from experience. The above mentioned questions are not all inclusive, other signs of a drinking problem are; you find you can’t stop drinking once you start, other people notice you drinking and comment and you can’t remember what you did when you were drinking alcohol. Let’s take a look at some of the facts about alcohol consumption (Evidence Based)

A large number of studies have shown that moderate alcohol intake can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in men and women. In context moderate drinking means 1 drink per day for women and 2 for men, says Donald Novey, MD. The difference lies in how women and men metabolize alcohol. According to Novey 1 drink is equal to
12 Ounces of beer (350ml) or
5 Ounces of wine (150ml) or
1.5 Ounces of spirits (45ml)

Other benefits of moderate drinking include possibly reduce risk of ischemic stroke (when the blood vessels (arteries) to your brain become narrow or blocked, causing severely reduced blood flow), possibly reduction in your risk of diabetes, moderate drinking also increases the amount of good fats in the blood. Despite all these evidence, benefits listed are uncertain and moderate alcohol may not benefit everyone.

On the other hand the consequences of excessive drinking are numerous and can be serious not only to the alcoholic but also for their friends and family and any other persons in their surroundings. Alcohol is a depressant and makes people sad over time. When depressed, people can do some rather unfortunate things to themselves and those around them. Also certain cancers, such as breast cancers and cancers of the mouth are associated with excessive alcohol intake. Inflammation of the pancreas, sudden death for those with co-existing heart disease, liver disease, accidental serious injury or death, brain damage and other problems in an unborn child and alcohol withdrawal syndrome are all consequences of excess alcohol consumption.

When to avoid alcohol use
In certain situations, the risks of alcohol use may outweigh the possible health benefits. For example, use alcohol only with great care and after consulting your doctor if:
·   You're pregnant or trying to become pregnant
·   You've been diagnosed with alcoholism or alcohol abuse, or you have a strong family history of alcoholism
·   You have liver or pancreatic disease
·   You have heart failure or you've been told you have a weak heart
·   You take prescription or over-the-counter medications that can interact with alcohol
·   You've had a hemorrhagic stroke (when a blood vessel in your brain leaks or ruptures)
Keep in mind that even moderate use isn't risk-free. For example, drinking and driving is never a good idea.

The Golden rule to alcohol consumption
Consuming not more than 1 drink a day for women and 2 for men is safe and perhaps even heart healthy. If you choose to drink alcohol do so only in moderation.
Moderate alcohol use may be most beneficial if you are an older adult or if you have existing risk factors of heart disease. If you are a middle aged or young adult, some evidence shows that even moderate alcohol use causes more harm than good. There are many other ways to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease like healthy eating and exercise.
In a nutshell no one should begin drinking or drink alcohol more frequently on the basis of potential health benefits. So don’t feel pressured to drink alcohol. But if you do drink alcohol and are healthy, there is probably no need to stop as long as you drink responsibly and in moderation. Stay healthy and always seek for professional advice on matters concerning your health.