One study indicates drinking helps reduce heart disease. Another finds that alcohol increases cancer risk. So what’s the best alcohol policy when it comes to your health? If you enjoy wine, beer or spirits, have a glass occasionally – but not much more than that.
“For many people, alcohol in moderation can raise HDL (good) cholesterol and reduce blood clotting, thereby lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke, and possibly reducing your risk of getting type 2 diabetes,” says Amy P. Campbell, a registered dietitian at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston.
The important part of that message is that “alcohol in moderation” means one or two glasses of wine, beer or spirits. Not three. And it may be a different story if you take some common medications for arthritis. Drinking alcohol and taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as naproxen (Aleve), increases your risk of stomach bleeding. Taking a regular dose of acetaminophen (Tylenol) and drinking alcohol can put your liver at risk. And many rheumatologists advise people taking methotrexate not to drink alcohol at all, or to limit themselves to two glasses per month.
In addition, drinking more than two glasses per day may actually increase your risk for cancer of the colon, breast, esophagus, mouth and throat, says Karen Collins, a registered dietitian and nutrition advisor to the American Institute for Cancer Research in Jamestown, NY. And a new study found that even moderate amounts of alcohol may increase the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.