NEW GUIDELINES SAY REDUCE ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION

NEW GUIDELINES SAY REDUCE ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION

·       According to new guidelines published by the UK’s Department of Health, consumption of any level of alcohol increases the risk of a range of cancers

·       The guidelines, based on findings of research worldwide, aim to decrease the risk of mortality from cancers and other disorders

·       When the original guidelines were published in 1995, the links between alcohol and cancer were not fully understood

·       Now, new evidence shows that the risks start from any level of regular drinking, and the more one drinks, the higher the risk

·       According to the UK’s Royal Society for Public Health, alcohol contributes to over 60 medical conditions, including heart disease, stroke, and some cancers

·       About 1 in 20 of all new cancers in the UK stem from alcohol consumption

·       Drinking even a small amount of alcohol increases the risk of some cancers, compared with people who do not drink at all, according to the UK’s Committee on Carcinogenicity

·       The risk of developing some alcohol-related cancers reduces over time when people stop drinking, but it can take many years to return to the levels found in people who have never drank alcohol

·       Lower limits for men’s consumption

·       The benefits of alcohol for heart health only apply for women aged 55 and over

o   These women should limit their intake to around 5 units per week, or the equivalent of around 2 standard glasses of wine

·       Drinking alcohol can increase women’s risk of mouth, throat and breast cancer

·       The recommended upper limit of consumption for women remains at 14 units per week

·       However, where men were previously advised not to exceed 21 units a week, that limit has now dropped to 14 units, or around 6 pints of average-strength beer

·       In the UK, men account for 65% of alcohol-related deaths

·       People are also being advised not to "save up" the 14 units for 1-2 days, but to spread them over 3 or more days.

·       Having several alcohol-free days a week is suggested as a way to reduce intake.

·       Having one to two heavy drinking sessions each week increases the risk of death from long-term illnesses, as well as accidents and injuries.

·       Pregnant women should avoid alcohol

o   Pregnant women are now being told to avoid all alcohol; no level of alcohol is safe to drink in pregnancy.

o   The previous advice to limit intake to 1-2 units of alcohol once or twice per week has been removed to provide greater clarity as a precaution.

o   While small amounts of alcohol consumed before becoming aware of the pregnancy present a low risk to the baby, there is no "safe" level of alcohol for pregnant women to drink.

·       New advice on single episodes of drinking includes limiting the total amount of alcohol consumed on any one occasion and drinking slowly.

·       People are also advised to consume food while drinking and to drink water alternately with alcohol.

·       Since the short-term risks for individuals vary widely, guidance about a set number of units for a single occasion or day are not currently included in the guidelines.

·       Those who should be particularly careful include young adults, older people, those with low body weight or other health problems, and those using medicines or other drugs.

FACTS ABOUT ALCOHOL

·       In the US, a standard drink contains 0.6 ounces of alcohol

·       This is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer at 5% alcohol content, 5 ounces of wine at 12% or 1.5 ounces of liquor at 40%

·       "Heaving drinking" is defined as eight drinks or more a week for women and fifteen or more for men.

BENEFITS OF RED WINE

·       Red wine, in moderation, has long been thought of as heart healthy.

·       Antioxidants in red wine may help prevent heart disease by increasing levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol) and protecting against artery damage.

·       Antioxidants in red wine called polyphenols may help protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart.

o   A polyphenol called resveratrol is one substance in red wine

·       RESVERATROL: may be a key ingredient in red wine that helps prevent damage to blood vessels, reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) and prevents blood clots.

o   The resveratrol in red wine comes from the skin of grapes used to make wine.

o   Because red wine is fermented with grape skins longer than is white wine, red wine contains more resveratrol.

o   Simply eating grapes, or drinking grape juice, has been suggested as one way to get resveratrol without drinking alcohol.

o   Red and purple grape juices may have some of the same heart-healthy benefits of red wine.

o   Most research on resveratrol has been done on animals

o   Research in mice given resveratrol suggests that the antioxidant might also help protect them from obesity and diabetes, both of which are strong risk factors for heart disease.

o   Research in pigs has shown that resveratrol may improve heart function and increase the body's ability to use insulin.

o   Some research shows that resveratrol could be linked to a reduced risk of inflammation and blood clotting, both of which can lead to heart disease.

o   One study showed that resveratrol may actually reduce the positive effect of exercise on the heart in older men.

o   It's also important to know that resveratrol's effects only last a short time after drinking red wine, so its effects may not last in the long term.

HOW DOES ALCOHOL HELP THE HEART?

·       Various studies have shown that moderate amounts of all types of alcohol benefit your heart, not just alcohol found in red wine. It's thought that alcohol:

o   Raises high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the "good" cholesterol

o   Reduces the formation of blood clots

o   Helps prevent artery damage caused by high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the "bad" cholesterol

o   Produces changes in blood pressure

DRINK IN MODERATION — OR NOT AT ALL

·       Red wine's potential heart-healthy benefits look promising.

·       Those who drink moderate amounts of alcohol, including red wine, seem to have a lower risk of heart disease.

·       However, more research is needed before we know whether red wine is better for your heart than are other forms of alcohol, such as beer or spirits.

·       Neither the American Heart Association nor the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommend that you start drinking alcohol just to prevent heart disease.

·       Alcohol can be addictive and can cause or worsen other health problems.

·       Drinking too much alcohol increases your risk of high blood pressure, high triglycerides, liver damage, obesity, certain types of cancer, accidents and other problems.

·       Drinking too much alcohol regularly can cause weakened heart muscle, leading to symptoms of heart failure in some people.

·       If you have heart failure or a weak heart, you should avoid alcohol completely.

·       If you take aspirin daily, you should avoid or limit alcohol, depending on your doctor's advice. You also shouldn't drink alcohol if you're pregnant.

·       If you have questions about the benefits and risks of alcohol, talk to your doctor about specific recommendations for you.

·       If you already drink red wine, do so in moderation.

·       For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.

·       The limit for men is higher because men generally weigh more and have more of an enzyme that metabolizes alcohol than women do.