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Are You Drinking Too Much Alcohol?

by Dr. Leslie Saltzman, Board Certified Internist
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I am often concerned that patients are drinking too much, yet find the conversation about alcohol difficult. Many women are unaware that the maximum per day that a woman should drink is one drink a day (one beer, glass of wine or one shot) The safe amount for men is two drinks per day. The reasons for this gender differences include women’s lower body size, percentage of body weight composed of water, and differences in metabolism.

I often get the impression that when women think of alcohol abuse or alcoholism they think of the homeless person on the street who is drinking at 10 am. They don’t think of women who drink a half bottle of wine each night or a few martinis as having a problem.

Women suffer from the health consequences of excess alcohol at much lower levels of alcohol consumption. We all know that excess alcohol affects the liver and can lead to permanent liver damage. Alcohol is also associated with a linear increase in breast cancer incidence, so the more you drink the higher your risk. Alcohol is also associated with cardiomyopathy (a degenerative disease of the heart muscle), brain shrinkage, pancreatitis, colon cancer and other gastrointestinal cancers.

If you think you may be drinking to much, start with this survey If you want to cut back on your drinking, the first thing is to remove alcohol from your home. If you are having problems cutting back, they are many programs and private counselors that we can recommend.

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