Is it Bad to Drink Once a Week?

by Sarah Collins, Demand Media
    Drinking in moderation can have health benefits.

    Drinking in moderation can have health benefits.

    In the past year, 6.8 percent of women and 10.3 percent of men reported drinking alcohol once a week, according to the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. When done responsibly, drinking in moderation can benefit your health. However, binge drinking, even only once a week, has repercussions that outweigh any potential benefits.

    Definition of "Moderation"

    Moderate alcohol use is defined by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans as no more than two drinks in one day for a man and one drink in one day for a women, and the NIAAA sets a limit of 14 drinks per week for a man and seven drinks per week for a woman. Drinking one day per week can fit into a healthy lifestyle if you follow these guidelines. One drink is defined as 12 fluid ounces of beer, 5 fluid ounces of wine or 1.5 fluid ounces of distilled spirits.

    Benefits of Moderate Drinking

    Drinking in moderation can offer some benefits for your health, according to MayoClinic.com. These benefits include lowering the risk of heart disease and heart attacks, reduced risk of strokes, lower chance of gallstones and potentially lower risk of developing diabetes. However, the benefits mostly affect older adults or those who already have risk factors for heart disease. A healthy diet and regular exercise offer far more substantial health benefits than moderate alcohol use does.

    Binge Drinking

    Drinking one day per week isn't healthy if it fits the parameters of binge drinking. This means drinking approximately four drinks within two hours for women and five drinks for men, or so much that blood alcohol concentration reaches 0.08 g/dL. While people who binge drink typically are not alcohol dependent, binge drinking does pose serious health risks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is associated with unintentional injuries -- such as falls, burns, drowning and vehicle crashes -- alcohol poisoning, sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancy, high blood pressure, liver disease, sexual dysfunction and neurological damage.

    When to Avoid Alcohol

    In certain situations, you should avoid drinking at all because the potential risks outweigh any possible benefit. For example, pregnant women should avoid all alcohol, as should people who take medications that can interact with alcohol. Other risky situations include drinking when diagnosed with a hemorrhagic stroke, alcoholism, liver disease or heart failure. Always avoid alcohol if you plan to drive in the near future.

    About the Author

    Sarah Collins has been writing about health, nutrition, fitness and food since graduating with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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