Is alcohol healthy or not?

There is a lot going on around alcohol. From an accepted hard drug to a health elixir. For example, according to some, red wine is healthy. A glass a day is good for blood circulation. According to others, alcohol destroys brain cells. From a medical and scientific point of view, the controversy is no less. And the line between healthy and unhealthy is much thinner than previously thought.

Daily alcohol consumption

The Dutch Nutrition Center recommends consuming no more than 1 (women) or 2 (men) glasses of alcohol daily. She clearly agrees that it is not wise to consume alcohol for health promotion. [1]


The many alcohol studies give rather contradictory messages:

  • For example, the daily consumption of a glass of alcohol appears to be both good and bad for the bone structure. But also promote and disrupt sleep. [2]
  • There are studies that speak positively about alcohol. For example, an American study claims that the risk of stroke decreases with the consumption of 1 glass of alcohol daily. [3]
  • There would also be a small positive effect on dementia. But binch drinkers (see below) actually have an increased risk of dementia and mental decline [4]
  • And 30% less risk of diabetes 2 with very moderate drinking according to another study. [5]
  • Obesity is also said to be less common among moderate drinkers. [6]
  • Red wine contains the substance resveratol. This appears to reduce the risk of lung cancer in smokers and ex-smokers by 60%. [7]
  • Women who drink low-alcohol (<1%) beer have a reduced risk of bone tissue loss. [8]
  • But there are also studies that are very negative about alcohol consumption. Such as the German study into the risk of breast cancer, which increases enormously with 1 glass of alcohol consumption daily. [9]
  • Acute pancreatitis is increased by ingesting just 1 glass of alcohol per day. Drinks other than beer and wine in particular have a greatly increased risk. Whiskey stands head and shoulders above the others. [10]
  • The quality and restorative capabilities of the body during sleep decrease after consuming 1 glass of alcohol. The damage caused by this is only visible in the long term. [11]
  • Women who drink during pregnancy increase the risk of low birth weight, premature birth and complications. [12]
  • Osteoporosis is promoted by drinking a lot. The genes that ensure the production and development of bone tissue are disabled by alcohol. [13][14]



Cancer is not caused by a gene or by any single nutrient. If there were a gene for cancer, it would be activated by epigenetic factors. [15] And alcohol, among other things, certainly plays a role in this. The risk of developing cancer of the mouth, throat, vocal cord, esophagus, breast, intestine, liver and pancreas increases significantly due to the intake of alcohol. And a small amount of alcohol intake is responsible for this, according to the largest study in the field of cancer and lifestyle conducted by the WCRF (World Cancer Research Fund) and the AICR (American Institute for Cancer Research). This is not surprising because pure alcohol, ethanol, is on the IACR (International Agency for Cancer Research) list of carcinogenic substances. The recommendation of the WCRF and AICR is that there should be no use of alcohol at all. [16]

Heart and vascular disease

Cardiovascular disease-related diseases were found to be between 14 and 25% lower with the daily consumption of 1 glass of alcohol. It was immediately shown that consuming more than 1 glass of alcohol per day increased the risk of a fatal cerebral infarction. [17] HDL (good) cholesterol is said to be increased by small amounts of alcohol (red wine). [18]

Binch drinking

The Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto conducted research into the consequences of binch drinking once a month. A lot meant 4 (women) to 5 (men) glasses at a time. This showed that binch drinking just once a month immediately canceled out all the health-promoting effects of no to light drinking. [19] A meta-study of 44 studies into the effects of alcohol and cardiovascular disease showed that not all low drinkers found that alcohol had a protective effect. [19] A comparative study between middle-aged men from France and Northern Ireland confirmed this outcome. French men drink daily, but are less likely to develop coronary artery calcification than Northern Irish men who do not drink daily, but do drink more each time. [20] The French drink proportionately more red wine and much less beer and whiskey.

Hard drugs

Alcohol, like any other hard drug, is a highly addictive substance. Daily use means that the number of receptors that respond decreases. This changes the tolerance level. To maintain the effect, one must use more and more. This greatly increases the chance of daily binch drinking (which is 4 for women and 5 alcoholic drinks per time for men). But most alcohol addicts continue to deny that they are addicted to alcohol. However, the health risks are enormous. Damage to the largest organ, the liver, alone poses a risk of fatal diseases. The liver has more than 500 functions in the body. The liver is of immediate vital importance. A damaged liver can recover, provided it is given the right conditions. [21] Both Prof I. Gilmore (Royal College of Physicians) and N. Sheron (University of Southhampthon) report that daily or almost daily use of alcohol greatly increases the risk of liver disease. Liver cirrhosis (connective tissue) occurs almost exclusively in people who drink daily. Weekly alcohol-free days are therefore a recommendation from both professors.

Alcohol yes or no?

With very moderate use, the chance of a longer life is slightly higher than that of complete abstainers. [22] But the strict condition is that there are alcohol-free days every week to keep tolerance low and give the liver the opportunity to repair the damage. However, for completely abstainers it is not worth it to start drinking. Healthy (paleo) nutrition and exercise provide many more health benefits.

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