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Dietitian Q/A

Because of the contents of some questions and the large number we receive, the MUSC Dietitians only answer selected questions. Although we discourage questions regarding personal health problems, scheduling an appointment with the outpatient dietitian to address these concerns is encouraged. Appointments can be made after a physician referral is received.

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 Question:  I have read recently contradicting evidence to what has been published in the past about alcohol consumption. Previously a glass of red wine a day was good for you and now I have read any alcohol consumption is bad for you. What is the truth?


The reality is both are true. Very little we do is completely risk free. Research has shown that light to moderate consumption of any alcohol can have a beneficial affect on cardiovascular risks, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer risks, congestive heart failure, stroke, dementia and Reynaud’s syndrome. On the other hand, heavy consumption of alcohol can have a detrimental affect in the same areas. There has been some research that suggests that any alcohol consumption could increase the risk of breast cancer. Drinking alcohol can also increase the risk for gout. Of course, there is always the risk of addiction to alcohol for certain individuals as well.

So it really comes down to weighing the risks versus the benefits. If you are at high risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, etc, light to moderate consumption may be worth the risks. On the other hand, if you are at high risk for breast or other cancers and/or alcoholism, the risk may not be worth it. No matter what you choose remember to keep your consumption light to moderate.

So what is light to moderate consumption? The would be 1 drink per day for women and 1-2 drinks per day for men. A drink is defined as 12 oz of beer, 5oz of wine, 1.5 oz of 80 proof spirits or 1 oz of 100 proof spirits.  

Answered: 04/05/2011

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