Alcohol: Some drinkers may claim, “I drink every day, but not excessively,” or “I only drink on weekends, but I drink a lot when I do.” One could classify the second sentence as binge drinking. Binge drinking is defined by the NIAAA as a pattern of alcohol consumption that raises the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 percent, or 0.08 grams per deciliter, or above. This pattern indicates that an average adult should have five or more drinks (for men) or four or more drinks (for women) in a period of two hours.
To be clear, binge drinking refers to consuming four or more drinks in a single event within two to three hours for women and five or more drinks on a single occasion for males. But in terms of overall health impact, how does a pint or a peg a day compare to many pints or pegs over the weekend? Before delving further into the subject, it’s crucial to remember that the majority of the experts we spoke with claimed alcohol is bad for your body and that there is no safe amount to consume. Even those who discussed a reasonable upper limit on consumption included a caveat, stating that there isn’t enough evidence to support safe alcohol consumption. A recent report from the World Health Organization (WHO) in The Lancet Public Health journal states that there is no completely safe level of consumption and even small amounts may have negative effects on health.
Expert in gastroenterology at P. D. Hinduja Hospital & Medical Research Centre, Dr. Pavan Dhoble, explains that the concept of “safe drinking” is incorrect in and of itself. He gave examples of how having just one drink could cause pancreatitis. “What many people often forget is that alcohol has an impact on both the pancreas and the liver.”
While some medical specialists advise modest alcohol use for generally healthy people (under 90 ml per week), Dr. Mahendra Singh Rajput, an assistant professor of gastroenterology at Amrita Hospital in Faridabad, notes that this prescription may not apply to everyone. It is highly recommended that people who already have medical issues like diabetes and hypertension abstain from alcohol. In summary, those with certain health conditions should abstain from alcohol consumption, even though moderate drinking may be appropriate for some. It’s particularly important to educate women about the risks of excessive alcohol use, emphasizing the impact on liver health and other women’s health issues. Overall, it’s recommended for everyone to avoid chronic excessive alcohol use and make informed choices for their well-being.
Alcohol: “But I only drink beer…”
Patients often tell Dr. Sanjiv Saigal, Principal Director and Head of Hepatology & Liver Transplant at Max Hospital, Saket, that they simply consume beer and do not view it as alcohol. It’s crucial to remember that drinking beer has the same benefits as ingesting any other kind of alcohol. Beer, whisky, rum, gin, and other types belong to the same group as hard drinks. What matters is the percentage of consumption by volume in weight. Whatever its form, alcohol affects the body in the same way.
It can impair decision-making, planning and cognitive functioning. Another important factor is denial of the person having a drinking problem. It delays diagnosis. Patients have excuses and explanations of the amount they are consuming as well as frequency.”
To put it briefly, each person’s level of drinking affects their liver and other organs differently. It’s critical to understand that certain people may still have negative effects from drinking in lesser amounts. It is therefore not advisable to mimic or cite others’ drinking habits while comparing one’s tolerance or health to others’.