Every year, people worldwide make New Year’s resolutions to reach their goals, improve their health, and better their lives. The United States government found that about half of the most popular resolutions made each year are health-related. Some examples include eating more nutritiously, exercising, managing stress, and drinking less alcohol.
Drinking less alcohol can improve health in both the short and long term. Most alcoholic drinks are high in calories, which is often associated with weight gain. Alcohol is also a risk factor for many cancers, including breast and liver cancers.
CDC Guidelines on Alcohol Consumption
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently shared updated guidelines to help individuals reduce the risk of alcohol-related harms. These harmful outcomes include motor vehicle crashes, violence, physical and mental health, and sexual risk behaviors.
The CDC guidelines state that adults of the legal drinking age can choose not to drink or drink in moderation by limiting intake to 2 drinks or less in a day for men or 1 drink or less in a day for women, on days when alcohol is consumed. They also recommend that individuals who do not drink alcohol not start drinking for any reason. If adults of the legal drinking age choose to drink alcoholic beverages, drinking less is better for health than drinking more.
Shockingly, two in three adult drinkers report drinking above these moderate levels at least once per month. While this impacts many areas of one’s health, reducing alcohol intake is one of the most important preventable risk factors concerning cancer. Alcohol use accounts for about 6% of all cancers and 4% of all cancer deaths in the United States. Yet, over half of Americans use alcohol frequently.
Who Should Avoid Alcohol Altogether
In addition to recommending the number of drinks an individual should consume to limit their risk, the guidelines also outline people who should not consume any alcohol at all.
It is well-known that pregnant or may be pregnant individuals should avoid alcohol consumption. Alcohol can have severe consequences for a developing fetus.
Others advised against drinking alcohol include:
- people under the legal drinking age
- individuals using certain medications or with certain medical conditions
- individuals who are recovering from an alcohol use disorder or unable to control the amount they drink.
The guidelines also note that avoiding alcohol is the safest option for breastfeeding women. Generally, a breastfeeding woman’s moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages is not known to be harmful to the infant. Also, waiting at least 2 hours after a single drink before nursing or expressing breast milk improves infant safety.
Reducing or ceasing alcohol use is a valuable way to reduce one’s risk of cancer. Please do so responsibly by following the CDC guidelines covered above if you choose to drink.
Additionally, there are many ways one can live a cancer-preventative lifestyle. Check out the National Foundation for Cancer Research’s cancer-fighting lifestyle blogs to learn more!
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