If you choose to drink alcohol, the key is to keep your drinking at the safest possible levels, called low-risk drinking. It's important to remember that drinking alcohol is not risk-free.
Many people enjoy drinking alcohol, and most people usually do it safely. But it's okay to choose not to drink.
In general, limit how much you drink. Canadian health experts recommend that:
On special occasions every now and then, it's okay to have 1 extra drink.
If you choose to drink, keep the amount of alcohol you drink within the recommended limits. Drinking at the upper limits should only happen once in a while, not every day or week. Plan non-drinking days every week to avoid developing a habit.
Keep in mind that a safe amount of alcohol for one person may be too much for another. Because of things like age, sex, weight, and health history, alcohol can affect people differently. If you're an adult who doesn't weigh a lot, is younger than 25 or older than 65, or isn't used to drinking, you need to be even more careful about how much alcohol you drink.
If you choose to drink, here are some things you can do to reduce your risk of getting sick or injured:
Some research suggests that having 1 drink a day may help lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes in middle-aged adults. But these possible health benefits decline with each additional drink that you have. Research also shows that any amount of alcohol can increase your risk of other health problems, such as some cancers.
If you don't drink now, don't start drinking to lower your risk of these health problems. There are many other ways you can lower your risk, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising, staying at a healthy weight, and not smoking. Talk to your doctor about your health and the benefits and risks of drinking alcohol.
When you drink alcohol, you may be putting your health and safety at risk. Your risk of harm increases with each drink that you have. And your risk of harm increases with how often you drink at amounts above the low-risk drinking guidelines, even if you do this only now and then.
Drinking alcohol may:
If you think you're drinking too much, you might want to cut back.
Young people should wait at least until they are in their late teenage years to drink alcohol. Follow the laws for the legal drinking age where you live. Drinking at a younger age can affect a young person's general health, physical growth, emotional development, ability to make good decisions, and schoolwork.
Parents can play a key part in teaching their children how to drink safely and responsibly.
Although most people can safely have a drink now and then, some people should not drink at all.
Don't drink alcohol if:
Talk to your doctor about whether drinking alcohol is safe for you. And if it is, ask how much is okay.
Other Works Consulted
Butt P, et al. (2010). Alcohol and Health in Canada: A Summary of Evidence and Guidelines for Low-Risk Drinking. To be published in Fall 2011.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineBrian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineThomas M. Bailey, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerRhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes EducatorTimothy R. Stockwell, PhDSue Barton, PhD, PsyD - Behavioral Health
Current as ofMarch 15, 2017
Current as of: March 15, 2017
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine & Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator & Timothy R. Stockwell, PhD & Sue Barton, PhD, PsyD - Behavioral Health
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