Alcohol and Health

The good

Moderate alcohol consumption has a number of positives for the body including reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke, hardened arteries, kidney stones, Alzheimer's disease and type 2 diabetes. 

The bad

However, alcohol has also been linked to an increased risk of certain cancers, osteoporosis and weight gain. Plus, it can have negative effects on your overall mental health, especially the next day when your blood sugar drops, and you feel the effects of overindulging 

The ugly

Some people become addicted to the effects of alcohol, a condition known as alcohol dependence or alcoholism. The World Health Organisation has found that 2% of South Africans are physiologically and psychologically dependant on alcohol. What’s more, 6% of all deaths within South Africa are caused solely by alcohol. Motor vehicle accidents and alcohol related violence create unnecessary strain on our healthcare services - a major contributing factor to the ban on alcohol during the Covid-19 pandemic.

So how much should one drink to get the ‘good’ from alcohol and not the ‘bad’ and ‘ugly’?

According to the United States’ National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, moderate drinking is up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. They define binge drinking as a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 percent or higher. For a typical adult, this corresponds to consuming five or more drinks for men, or four or more drinks for women within about two hours. Heavy alcohol use is defined as more than four drinks on any day for men, or more than three drinks for women.

If you are concerned about your drinking, or that of a loved one, speak to one of our network GPs or reach out to our 24-hour health line, we are here to help.