Alcohol and staying healthy
Alcohol has been linked with an increased risk of developing some types of cancer.
An American study has shown that as little as one drink a day can increase the risk of mouth, gullet (oesophagus), breast, liver, and bowel cancers.
The more alcohol someone drinks the greater the overall health risk. Alcohol is also high in calories and can contribute to weight gain. Drinking a large amount of alcohol in one session (binge drinking) is thought to be worse for your health than drinking a small amount each day.
It’s best to limit alcohol intake and include one or two alcohol-free days each week. Current drinking guidelines recommended by the UK government and the NHS are:
Men should avoid drinking more than 3-4 units of alcohol a day.
Women should avoid drinking more than 2-3 units of alcohol a day.
One drink isn’t the same as 1 unit of alcohol. In the UK, 1 unit is 10ml (8g) of pure alcohol. For example:
Half a pint of lower strength (3-4%) beer, lager or cider contains 1 unit.
Half a pint of higher strength (5%) beer, lager or cider contains 1.5 units.
A standard glass of wine (175ml), often called a small glass in pubs and bars, contains 2.1 units.
A large glass of wine (250ml) contains 3 units.
A single measure (25ml) of 40% spirits contains 1 unit.
A bottle (275ml) of an alcopop contains 1.5 units.
Drinking one or two units of alcohol a day may give some protection from coronary heart disease, especially in men over 40 and women who have been through the menopause. However, it is a relatively small benefit.