Health Topic of the Month

April Topic of the Month: Alcohol Abuse Awareness
Vodka Collection

We frequently hear news reports about the benefits of drinking alcohol. Although there are some health benefits associated with drinking a moderate amount of alcohol, alcohol can also have many negative health effects. High blood pressure, Stomach and esophageal cancer, liver disease, and sleep problems, along with other diseases, are linked to high alcohol consumption.

People who choose to drink should limit themselves to one (for women) or two (for men) drinks a day, and should avoid binge drinking , which is defined as 4 drinks in a sitting for women and 5 drinks for men. One drink is equal to 1 bottle of beer (12 oz), 1 glass of wine (5 oz), or 1 shot of liqour (1.5 oz). The amount of alcohol is the most important thing, not the type.

Women and adolescents are at especially high risk from overconsumption of alcohol. Because women generally weigh less, and have a different body composition than men, the same amount of alcohol can cause more damage in women than men . Alcohol can increase the risk of breast cancer, especially among women already at risk. Women who may become pregnant must also be careful. Drinking while pregnant can cause fetal alcohol syndrome , a 100% preventable disease.

Because teenagers’ brains are still developing, they are especially vulnerable to damage caused by alcohol consumption. Teenagers are also more likely to engage in binge drinking and risky behaviors, like casual sex or fighting, while drunk. Parents can make a difference by talking with their kids about the dangers of alcohol abuse.

If you are worried about your alcohol intake, you can find strategies for cutting down or quitting here. There are many resources for those who may have a problem with alcohol. You should also talk with your physician about ways to cut down on drinking.

If you answer “yes” to two or more of the following questions, you may have a problem with alcohol:

1. Have you ever felt you needed to Cut down on your drinking?
2. Have people Annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
3. Have you ever felt Guilty about drinking?
4. Have you ever felt you needed a drink first thing in the morning (Eye-opener) to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover?

You can also use this risk calculator to see if you are at increased risk of problems from alcohol. You can also find advice and resources to help you change your drinking habits.

If you are worried that a friend or a family member may have a drinking problem, organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon /Alateen also provide resources to help you help them.

Sheila Maier, M.S.,OMS-III is a medical student at Rocky Vista University and a Grillo Health Information Center volunteer.
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More information about these and other health topics can be found at the National Health Observances website and Questions are the Answer.

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