How Much Alcohol is Safe?

Alcohol increases the risk for mortality from accidents, heart disease, liver disease, and several types of cancers, including tumors of the mouth, throat, breast, liver, esophagus, and colon. How much alcohol is too much?

Public service announcements routinely inform the community about the dangers of alcohol abuse. It’s common knowledge that heavy drinking increases the risk of death from car crashes and other accidents. The latest news is that even light drinking interferes with driving skills, even when the individual shows no change in behavior or appearance.

Is alcohol good for your heart?

Moderate drinking is defined as no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Research once suggested that drinking red wine might protect against heart disease, but that was never proven true. Resveratrol, the active component in red wine, improves cardiovascular function in rodents, but in humans the exact opposite is true. So far, we have no evidence that drinking red wine is beneficial for humans. Instead, alcohol can significantly impair heart function in humans.

Alcohol causes cancer and no amount is safe

We have very strong evidence that alcohol causes cancer and the more an individual drinks over time, the greater the risk. Women who drink less than one drink per day, significantly increase their risk for breast cancer. Unfortunately, even a very small amount of alcohol increases the risk for cancer. Just a single sip of strong alcohol exposes you to a measurable amount of carcinogens in your mouth.

The more we learn about alcohol, the less there is to like about it. Although wildly popular, alcohol is simply toxic to your system. Moderate alcohol consumption does not protect you from illness or increase your lifespan. Alcohol does not help at all.


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By |2019-05-29T13:43:36-05:00December 31st, 2015|Recommendations & Thoughts|2 Comments

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About the Author:

Dr. Carla Hightower, MD, MBA is a certified integrative health coach, speaker, and corporate wellness consultant. She helps busy people develop healthier lifestyle habits and use plant-based nutrition so they can heal themselves. She provides educational information through her health coaching services and an online course on diabetes. In addition she is an engaging speaker on the subject of plant-based food and healthy lifestyle habits that improve health, energy and productivity. In her prior career she practiced anesthesiology for 21 years. In the midst of that career she overcame personal health challenges by adopting a plant-based lifestyle. Also, she observed that most of her patients were suffering from preventable complications of chronic lifestyle diseases. From those experiences she is motivated to teach people how to take full control of their health through better eating and lifestyle habits.


  1. Jan January 5, 2016 at 4:15 pm - Reply

    Bummer! I was going to take up drinking a little red wine every now and then in 2016. I guess I should continue to abstain from alcohol. Never really acquired a taste for it. I’ll let my two wino girlfriends know that they are not extending their lives by downing a bottle of red wine every weekend. Thanks Dr. Hightower!

    • Carla Hightower, MD January 5, 2016 at 6:02 pm - Reply

      You’re right about being better off, abstaining from the alcohol. We can have lots of organic red grapes instead!

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