It isn’t uncommon to wind down a night with a glass of wine or crack open a beer to share with friends on a weekend. And most of the time, you don’t have to think twice about this consumption. While drinking alcohol in moderation is generally not a cause for concern (and may have benefits), when your alcohol habit starts to become a daily habit, Mayo Clinic doctors warn that you might want to take a closer look at how much you drink and how that alcohol can affect your health.
“Occasional beer or wine with dinner, or a drink in the evening, is not a health problem for most people. When drinking becomes a daily activity, though, it may represent progression of your consumption and place you at increased health risks,” says Terry Schneekloth, MD, a doctor of psychiatry and addiction at the Mayo Clinic in a Q&A.
Even if it’s just one glass of wine (5 ounces) or beer (12 ounces) or cocktail (1.5 ounces) or hard malt seltzer (8 ounces) every night, in some instances, that’s considered “heavy drinking.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Heavy or high-risk drinking is defined as more than three drinks on any day or more than seven drinks a week for women and for men older than age 65 (that’s just one drink a day).” For men under the age of 65, heavy drinking is defined as “more than four drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks a week.”
“Alcohol can damage your body’s organs and lead to various health concerns. For women, this damage happens with lower doses of alcohol, because their bodies have lower water content than men. That’s why the moderate drinking guidelines for women and men are so different,” says Dr. Schneekloth.
Before you pour another