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Alcohol: After all the contradictory advice, what’s the safe amount to drink?

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In the past few weeks, doctors have come up with three different pieces of advice about drinking alcohol, and each contradicts the other. So – what’s the truth: is alcohol good for you or not?
We’ve been told that:
o drinking up to two glasses of wine (and especially red wine) if you’re a man, and one glass a day if you’re a woman, is good for you;
o we’ve also been told we shouldn’t drink every day, but should have at least two alcohol-free days a week
o and now we’ve been warned that drinking two large glasses or more a day triples our risk of mouth cancer.
So what’s the truth? Not surprisingly, it’s complicated, as researchers from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health have concluded. After studying 44 research papers, they found further contradictions. One glass of alcohol every day increases your risk of breast cancer, and yet the same amount helps you live longer.
Drinking becomes a risk, rather than a benefit, if you have more than one drink every day, say the researchers, and health gains of even modest drinking can be lost by monthly ‘binge drinking’ sessions – defined as having five or more drinks in one go if you’re a man, and four for a woman.
Bearing all this in mind, the most sensible regime seems to be having one drink every few days.
(Source: Addiction, 2012; doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2012.03780.x)

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