Sunday, September 08, 2013


Alcoholic beverages are imbibed across the world. For some they serve as a uniting commonality for socializing, while others partake in tasty alcohol-containing drinks to reach altered states of consciousness, or to get drunk. The paradox of enjoying alcoholic beverages is that it comes with benefits and risks not just to your physical health but also other significant domains of your life, including work and relationships. The key to staying on the side of gleaning the advantages of alcohol use resides in safe, moderate consumption.

Advantage: Heart Health

The cardiovascular system includes your heart, circulatory and neurological systems, and cardiovascular disease is the primary killer of American men and women. Cardiovascular diseases can impact your arteries and heart, blood vessels leading to major organs or your brain, and include damage to any of these systems that can lead to stroke or heart attack. People free of cardiovascular complications actually can protect this system with moderate alcohol consumption. According to Harvard Health Publications, moderate alcohol use raises the high-density lipoprotein, or good cholesterol, level in your bloodstream, which plays a role in reducing the risk of clots in your blood vessels.

Disadvantage: Heart-Health Risk

Moderate alcohol consumption in healthy adults can be cardio-protective, but excessive alcohol consumption or alcohol use if you have existing heart disease increases your risk of heart complications. Continued alcohol use if you have high blood pressure can lead to blockage in the arteries from the brain, causing a sudden or severe disruption in the brain blood supply, or stroke. Excess alcohol consumption also increases the chance of chronic high blood pressure, which impacts the functionality of your heart.

Advantage: Other Health-Risk Reduction

Type 2 diabetes, a form of chronic metabolic disease due to poor insulin production, can result from differing contributing factors, like poor diet, pancreatic complications or obesity. Studies indicate that the risk of developing diabetes is reduced with regular, moderate alcohol consumption, but the exact benefit of alcohol on blood glucose management warrants ongoing research. Gallstones develop in the gallbladder and can result from too much cholesterol in the diet. Alcohol might minimize the risk of cholesterol accumulation that leads to gallstones. Consequently, excess alcohol consumption also can cause complications in blood glucose management if you have diabetes and poor liver functions that increase the risk of gallstones.

Disadvantage: Abuse and Alcoholism

The psychological impact of drinking alcohol presents with a wide-range of consequences depending on your drinking pattern. Alcohol abuse occurs when you engage in drinking that is unsafe and harmful to others. Binge drinking is a form of alcohol abuse. Blackouts or alcohol poisoning resulting from over-consumption are serious residual effects of alcohol abuse. Alcoholism develops over time as you require more beverages to achieve the intoxicating results, when you experience withdrawal symptoms when you do not drink, and when you engage in unsafe behaviors that impact yourself and others. Alcoholism and abuse often result in loss of relationships, loss of employment, vehicular accidents or violence.