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So Are 2 Drinks A Day Really Too Many?

Posted by on Jan. 8, 2014 at 7:49 PM
  • 36 Replies

So Are 2 Drinks A Day Really Too Many?

This looks like way more than one too many.

This looks like way more than one too many.

Chris Gramly/iStockphoto

A lot of us are drinking too much, and on Tuesday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called us on it.

More than eight drinks a week for women and 15 drinks a week for men can get you into trouble, the CDC warned.

But that doesn't seem to jibe with other studies that found that drinking alcohol makes for better heart health, several Shots commenters noted. Shana Cuddy wrote:

"Interestingly, in another NPR article they say that moderate drinkers are healthier overall than folks who don't drink at all, and they define 'moderate drinker' as someone who has 3 or less drinks per day. This would be 21 drinks per week for women, which this story claims is well over twice the safe limit."

That study, which found that Europeans who drank zero to three glasses of wine daily had better cardiovascular health, didn't prove that it was the wine that made the difference. It could be that people who drink moderately are healthier to begin with. And there haven't been any randomized controlled trials to find out.

As a result, the American Heart Association says it "does not recommend drinking wine or any other form of alcohol to get these potential benefits."

Then what about the weekly limits? Many of our readers thought they seemed pretty darned skimpy. To find out how the CDC came up with them, we talked with Lela McKnight-Eily, a health scientist at the CDC who is the lead author on the new study.

"It's a daily average," McKnight-Eily told Shots. The average is based on population studies, which show that people who drink more than that have an increased risk of heart disease, breast cancer and other health problems. "There's no level that's not at risk," she said.

That takes a bit of the shine off that glass of wine while cooking dinner, especially since if I indulge every day, I'm close to the upper end of the moderate drinking zone.

But the numbers get more complex than just weekly averages.

Public health officials are particularly concerned about people who binge drink, which the CDC defines as more than four drinks at a sitting for a woman, and five drinks for a man.

About 1 in 6 Americans binge drink, according to another CDC study. That's 38 million people. In that study, people defined binge drinking as downing nearly eight drinks in a session, four times a month.

People also need to be aware that accepted definitions of "a drink" don't always match the doctors' measure. The feds measure a glass of wine as 5 ounces. "You could get two or three drinks in a standard wine glass and not be aware of it," McKnight-Eily says.

Indeed, between those giant restaurant glasses, high-alcohol craft beers, jumbo martinis and human nature, it's easy to overindulge. As the commenter going by the scrambled handle "r4b1db4dg3r" wrote:

"I feel that once you reach two per day, it at least merits investigation. Most 'drinks' are more than one drink and people often underestimate, so in that range two could mean four or even five. Whether or not a true two is a problem is more unclear. Most people with a serious drinking problem blow that out of the water, and the point of this article is that if people asked maybe more of those people who really and clearly need help would be caught."

That's really what the CDC is trying to say, r4b1db4dg3r. If doctors and other health professionals don't routinely ask all of us about alcohol, they can't help the people whose drinking has slipped from pleasure to problem.

And that shifts the focus of the "What's too much?" question from averages based on the public at large to right where it should be, on a person's individual risk.

"It depends on who you are," McKnight-Eily says, noting that many people have health conditions that are made worse by alcohol. "That's why we want [people] to have the conversation with their health providers."

National Woman's Party


by on Jan. 8, 2014 at 7:49 PM
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Replies (1-10):
yourspecialkid
by on Jan. 8, 2014 at 7:55 PM
4 moms liked this

 Drink the wine.  Don't drink the wine.  It would be nice if they could make up their minds!

As far as I am concerned?  MODERATION!

 

Sisteract
by Whoopie on Jan. 8, 2014 at 7:59 PM

Raises hand-

I tend to be a binge drinker-The holidays and vacays, I binge. Occasionally on the weekend, or at a social event, I'll have a glass of wine. The rest of the time, I am dry.

Sipping an Angry Orchard right now- and I had a honey Jack before dinner.

motha2daDuchess
by Bruja on Jan. 8, 2014 at 8:03 PM

After I had my kids I rarely drink, especially if my kids are around I won't even have a beer, but if I can drink, boy do I!

TruthSeeker.
by Milami on Jan. 8, 2014 at 8:17 PM
Total binge drinker here. I had the worst hangover of my life on New Year's day.

Quoting Sisteract:

Raises hand-

I tend to be a binge drinker-The holidays and vacays, I binge. Occasionally on the weekend, or at a social event, I'll have a glass of wine. The rest of the time, I am dry.

Sipping an Angry Orchard right now- and I had a honey Jack before dinner.

btamilee
by on Jan. 8, 2014 at 8:24 PM

....There is nothing like a nice hot bath, a good book.....and a nice cold beer!  Sorry, but I enjoy my bubbly beverages.  I have been trying to adjust light beers, but its like drinking water because I prefer dark beer.  The winter ales are so GOOD

Sisteract
by Whoopie on Jan. 8, 2014 at 8:34 PM

Unfortunately, I had a long vacation right before Thanksgiving, then the holidays, and right after Christmas, I left for a 2 week getaway. I have effectively been on a binge since Halloween.

Next week, it ends. 

Quoting TruthSeeker.: Total binge drinker here. I had the worst hangover of my life on New Year's day.

Quoting Sisteract:

Raises hand-

I tend to be a binge drinker-The holidays and vacays, I binge. Occasionally on the weekend, or at a social event, I'll have a glass of wine. The rest of the time, I am dry.

Sipping an Angry Orchard right now- and I had a honey Jack before dinner.


lga1965
by on Jan. 8, 2014 at 9:09 PM
1 mom liked this

 Ehh, what do THEY know ???

wink

 

EireLass
by Ruby Member on Jan. 9, 2014 at 9:57 AM
I can't. I either just psychologically cant get past it, or am really physically sensitive to it.
I had a glass of wine with dinner the other night, and had a headache all night long, and the next morning. Wth.
kellysparkles
by Member on Jan. 9, 2014 at 10:03 AM

I don't drink at all and I come from a family of alcoholics, so to me 2+ alcoholic drinks is worrisome.  

Woodbabe
by Woodie on Jan. 9, 2014 at 10:04 AM
1 mom liked this

Drinking is better than child abuse! LOL

Seriously, a enjoy a healthy portion of wine while I"m cooking dinner and then I'll have another one later in the evening with my husband as we discuss our day. So that's two on a regular weeknight. I'll have more on the weekend when we're getting some fun on. Really? That's too much? Seems like if I was drinking a bottle a day and was unable to perform daily functions it would be more of a problem.

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