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Sep 14, 2020
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In what doses can alcohol be consumed without fear of consequences?

Almost everyone knows that alcohol consumption can cause addiction and many diseases. The idea of ​​finding a dose of alcohol that does not lead to serious consequences is very attractive. Is there such a “magic” dose? What do the recommendations mean that “allow” us to drink a certain “displacement” per day or week? Understanding.

Andrey Ukrainian

How to correctly estimate the amount of alcohol you drink

To control the dose of alcohol consumed, medical organizations suggest using special units – standard portions of alcohol. Their meanings differ from country to country. In the UK it is 8 grams of pure ethyl alcohol, in Canada – 13.6, in the USA – 14, in Japan – almost 20. In Russia and most European countries, this portion is 10 grams.

The number of standard servings consumed can be determined using calculations made by medical organizations and agencies, for example:

A 500 ml bottle of beer (4.8% alcohol) contains 1.9 servings,

100 grams of wine (11%) – 0.9 servings,

40 ml of strong (33%) alcohol – 1 serving.

How much is “allowed” to drink officially

In 2015, the Center for Preventive Medicine of the Ministry of Health of Russia (GNITsPM) indicated that men can stay in the “low health risk zone” if they drink 4.5 liters of beer or 0.75 liters of fortified wine or 2 glasses of vodka a week. For the health of women, according to the same experts, a dose equivalent to 200 ml of dry wine or 150 ml of champagne or 1 glass of vodka per day carries the minimum danger.

If we translate this into standard doses, then a man “can” drink an average of 3 servings per day or 21 servings per week, and a woman – 2 and 14, respectively. In 2019, the Ministry of Health repeated this recommendation.

There is no international consensus on “minimum safe” doses of alcohol in the world. Recommendations can vary significantly.

There are nuances

GNITsPM emphasizes that there are no norms and safe levels of alcohol consumption. The Institute insists that the doses presented in such recommendations cannot be called safe. Any of them can harm health.

There are no safe doses of alcohol

Alcohol recommendations often include the comment that non-drinkers should not start doing so. That is, such documents are intended for people who deliberately chose to use this potentially dangerous substance.

A growing body of research shows that there is no safe dose of alcohol. For example, an analysis published by The Lancet in 2018 found that people who drink alcohol in amounts considered “relatively safe” have a higher risk of premature death than non-drinkers. The concept of the protective effect of small doses of alcohol is rapidly losing its supporters. In 2019, the largest study found that moderate drinkers were at increased risk of stroke, and the likelihood of a heart attack was the same as that of non-drinkers.


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