Being Smart About Alcohol

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Being Smart About Alcohol

Whether you choose to drink or not, alcohol is a part of life here in South Louisiana. Here are a few benefits and risks of consuming alcohol, along with a couple of extra things to keep in mind:

The Benefits

  • Moderate alcohol use, which is one drink a day for women and one to two drinks a day for men, is associated with decreased cardiovascular risk and can raise good cholesterol. Specifically, red wine has the best association with improved heart health, based on some studies. One drink is equivalent to five ounces of wine, a 12-ounce beer, or one and a half ounces of hard liquor.

The Risks

  • Sweet alcohol drinks like margaritas and daiquiris have LOTS of sugar and upwards of 800 calories for a 16-ounce serving. Cut your caloric intake by limiting sugary mixed drinks, which can also lead to overconsumption due to masking the taste of alcohol.
  • There is some evidence that increased alcohol use is associated with an increased risk of cancers of the gastrointestinal tract.

Always Remember – Safety First

  • It is NOT safe to consume multiple drinks in a day and “average it out” for a week. For example, not drinking all week and then drinking seven beers at a party is not the same as drinking one drink per day, even though that could be over several hours! Binge drinking is bad for your health and can cause liver damage, motor impairment, drowsiness and poor decision-making ability.
  • You should NEVER drink and drive, no matter the amount. It is very difficult to know how impaired you may be even after drinking small amounts of alcohol since the effects are based on multiple factors (weight, hydration status, individual metabolism, etc.). The worst medical cases I have seen personally among teens and college-aged kids were from drinking and driving.
    Designate a driver! Alcohol is involved in about one-third of all car crashes. As a side note, it is also associated with an estimated two-thirds of spousal abuse cases.

If you do not drink alcohol, then the health benefits are probably not enough for you to start. Just make sure you’re following a heart healthy diet and exercising regularly for your cardiovascular health.

Be safe and smart with your alcohol use, and remember – NEVER DRINK AND DRIVE!

About Dr. Chamberlain

Dr. ChamberlainDr. Matthew Chamberlain received his medical degree from Louisiana State University School of Medicine in Shreveport, La. He completed a Family Medicine residency at Methodist Hospitals of Dallas where he served as chief resident from 2000-2001. He was a member of the 1991 and 1993 LSU Baseball NCAA Championship teams. Dr. Chamberlain resides in Baton Rouge with his wife and currently practices at Our Lady of the Lake Physician Group Concierge Medicine.

Learn more about concierge medicine and Dr. Chamberlain at

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