Risks and Resources for Alcohol Consumption

Jan. 31, 2023

Understanding the risks and potential health benefits of alcohol can often seem confusing, as the evidence for moderate alcohol use in healthy adults is not certain. With nearly 17% of adults in Arizona reporting regularly consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, it is crucial to know the guidelines and risks of alcohol to help individuals you serve to create healthy habits that improve their health. 

The guidelines for alcohol

The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults of legal drinking age (21 years and older) can choose not to drink or drink in moderation, with two drinks or less a day for men and one drink or less for women. 

Recommend for your constituents to abstain from alcohol use if they:

  • Are under the legal drinking age
  • Are pregnant or may be pregnant
  • Have health problems that could be made worse by drinking 

Risks of alcohol

When drinking alcohol, the body breaks the substance down into a chemical called acetaldehyde, which damages DNA and, in excess, can create a cancerous tumor. Excessive drinking, with five or more drinks for men or four or more drinks for women during a single occasion, can lead to chronic diseases, including high blood pressure, weakening of the immune system, alcohol use disorders, and the following types of cancer:

  • Mouth
  • Throat
  • Esophagus
  • Liver
  • Breast (in women)
  • Colon and rectum

Resources for healthy drinking

Drinking too much alcohol can be harmful. Everyone can benefit from drinking less alcohol or not drinking at all. This tool, made by the CDC, checks your drinking and can give advice. If your constituents want to drink less, it can help them to build a plan to make healthier choices. Additionally, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers a free, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. Call 1-800-622-4357.