one drink a day for women and two for men.
Because of all of the health risks associated with alcohol consumption, the guidelines point out that the government “does not recommend that individuals who do not drink alcohol start drinking for any reason.”
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) women appear to be more vulnerable to adverse consequences of alcohol than men because women generally have less body water than men. Consequently, women reach higher concentrations of alcohol in their blood than men do after equivalent alcohol intake, which is why even when there are pre-existing drinking habits, it is especially important that women learn how to moderate such habits rather than keep up with their male counterparts.
“This is one area in which men and women are not equal,” Glaser affirmed. “And women should not be drinking the same amount as men, even if you weight the same. Women’s bodies are just not built in the same way that men’s are in terms of processing alcohol.”
Moderation management is key
Glaser has been an advocate for moderation management and there is data showing that moderate drinking is linked to several health benefits for women.
“I don’t think moderation is for everyone,” she said. “People in the far end of the spectrum of alcohol use disorder probably won’t be great candidates for moderation but for people who are able to use their skills and have discipline, it can be very effective.”
Results of a study published in August show that women who consume more than 14 alcoholic beverages a week have a slight chance to experience reduced fertility, but women’s fertility was not impacted if they limited their alcohol intake to a maximum of seven drinks a week.
A study published in September, by the University of California, in San Diego, showed that regular to moderate alcohol intake was linked with better cognitive function in both men and women. For instance, immediate visual recall scores were lower for people who do not drink or never drank alcohol than for those who drink in moderation.
Recent studies also show that moderate alcohol intake protects women against high blood pressure and all types of pancreatitis. And that’s not all: in addition to having better health, moderate drinkers have better socioeconomic status than both non-drinkers and heavy drinkers.
“There’s a learning curve,” Glaser concluded. “There’s a learning curve to learning what you should tolerate and what you shouldn’t; to knowing what you should be drinking and what is safe for you. It’s important for everybody to figure out what that is.”