Reflect on your consumption

Since 1987, April has been designated as Alcohol Awareness Month. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, most adults who drink alcohol, do so in moderation and are at low risk for developing problems related to their drinking. Moderation, however, is essential.

Take some time to reflect on your own alcohol consumption patterns. A helpful source of information is the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The guidelines include important information about the health effects of alcohol consumption.

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines define moderate drinking as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. The guidelines define a standard drink as 12 fluid ounces of regular beer, 5 fluid ounces of wine, and 1.5 fluid ounces of 80 proof distilled spirits. Each of these standard drinks contains the same amount of alcohol — 0.6 fluid ounces.

Since beer, wine and distilled spirits products may come in different sizes and alcohol content, these clearly defined standard drink amounts serve as an important benchmark to help consumers follow the dietary guidelines’ recommendation for moderate drinking.

Importantly, research shows that just having a brief discussion with a health professional can help individuals moderate their alcohol consumption. So talk with your family physician about your personal alcohol intake. Together, you can determine if you are consuming alcohol as part of a healthy lifestyle or if you need to cut back or abstain from drinking alcohol all together.

Raymond Scalettar, M.D., F.A.C.P., D.Sc.

Washington, D.C.

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