Alcohol: whether you’re a lover of beer, wine, or mixed drinks, there’s a good chance you’re among the 56% of American adults who imbibe on a regular basis.
While it’s easy to shrug off regular alcohol consumption as a benign behavior, it’s important to consider alcohol’s effects on your health, both mental and physical.
Luckily, most consumers who regularly drink do not suffer from alcoholism or alcohol use disorders.
However, there are a number of important ways that alcohol affects the body on a physiological level. Alcohol also serves as a social buffer and coping tool that may increase the risk for anxiety, depression, and potential alcohol use disorders.
If you drink on a regular basis, there are three crucial things you should know about alcohol’s effects on your health.
#1. Alcohol Increases Cancer Risk.
Alcohol is classified as a Group 1 Carcinogen by the international agency for cancer research.
Women who consume three or more drinks per week have a 15% higher risk of breast cancer.
Alcohol consumption has also been shown to directly increase risk for cancers of the, colon, liver, esophagus, mouth, and liver, even when drinking occurs at a moderate level.
#2. Alcohol Increases Risk For Weight Gain.
Alcohol contains a large number of Calories: 7 per gram, compared to 4 Calories per gram for carbohydrate and protein, and 9 for fat.
Because of the Caloric density of alcohol- and the fact that liquids don’t promote satiety- it’s easy to consume a large number of Calories without feeling full.
If you struggle with maintaining a healthy weight, be sure to limit your alcohol consumption. When you do drink, steer clear of high Calorie mixed drinks and mixers, and limit yourself to one or two drinks total.
#3. Alcohol Consumption May Lead to an Alcohol Use Disorder
Just over 6% of alcohol consumers develop an alcohol use disorder. Alcoholism falls into the class of alcohol use disorders, at the more severe end of the spectrum. Mild and moderate alcohol use disorders often develop as the individual uses alcohol in an effort to manage anxiety, depression, or other emotional issues.
When left untreated, mild and moderate alcohol use disorders may become more serious.
Morgan Medeiros is a certified nutritionist, holding a both a Bachelor and Master’s Degree in Clinical Nutrition. Morgan completed her undergraduate education at Central Washington University, and her graduate education at Northeastern University. During her time as a graduate student, Morgan focused her area of expertise in health education, weight management, and behavioral change. Morgan has experience working in areas of nutritional neuroscience and disease prevention, obesity prevention, and weight loss. Morgan also works in areas of nutritional analysis and menu labeling for restaurants, where she is able to creatively bridge her interest in food culture and health education. In her free time, Morgan enjoys traveling, reading, writing, running, and spending time with her family and friends (including- most importantly- her dog, Clyde).