The truth about alcohol. Is drinking alcohol in moderation good or bad?

5 May 2018: Decided that the benefits of alcohol < costs. Hence STOP permanently.

Benefits are uncertain (some studies now question even the few benefits).

Costs are financial ($500 per year), lost time (the hours after alcohol are less productive), and disturbed sleep (getting up at night for urination when alcohol is consumed + a hollow “hangover” feeling).

Since benefits do not unambiguously exceed costs, I’ve decided to PERMANENTLY stop alcohol.


This is very confounding issue. I’m going to make some research notes here and update as I find time to learn more.


ADDENDUM 7 FEBRUARY 2017: Studies seem to not have controlled for wealth. Maybe moderate drinking isn’t so good for you after all


ADDENDUM 28 JANUARY 2017: Why experts don’t want to talk about benefits of moderate drinking  (this focuses on benefits from social drinking)

A key article: The Truth We Won’t Admit: Drinking Is Healthy. Further (this one doesn’t directly provide data but makes claims that could potentially be verified). Further: Five health benefits to moderate drinking – cites numerous studies.

Figure below – annotated based on figure in



Principle 1: No matter how much you drink, make sure you drink SLOWLY, and (ideally) have food along with alcohol

That is because alcohol needs to be broken down by the liver:

the liver can only handle a certain amount of alcohol at any given time, so if you drink more than the liver can deal with by drinking too quickly, or drinking too much, your liver cells struggle to process it.

When alcohol reaches the liver, it produces a toxic enzyme called acetaldehyde which can damage liver cells and cause permanent scarring, as well as harm to the brain and stomach lining. But that’s not all…

Your liver also requires water to do its job effectively. When alcohol enters the body it acts as a diuretic and as such dehydrates you and forces the liver to find water from other sources. The severe dehydration is part of the reason why, after a big night of drinking you can wake up nursing a whopping headache.

Regular and heavy drinking over time can strain or upset the way alcohol is metabolised within the body, which can lead to alcoholic liver disease.  [Source]


Alcohol is a known liver toxin. Fatty liver, while not harmful in itself, can progress in some cases to more serious liver damage such as cirrhosis.  [Source]


obesity is the most common cause of fatty liver worldwide, affecting 20 percent of Americans, a July 2007 published in the “World Journal of Gastroenterology” reports. [Source]

Principle 2: Drinking something is better than drinking nothing

There are studies that suggest that not drinking at all is associated with the highest rate of cardio-vascular disease.


“Moderate beer consumption can be considered as part of a healthy diet since it may protect against heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis,” stated a group of scientists from Italy’s Institute of Food Sciences, led by Dr Carmela Spagnuolo?, last year.

Beers contain a rich cargo of a chemicals called polyphenols, thought to have cancer-fighting abilities. In the Italian research, cultured leukaemia cells were exposed to five different Italian brews. [Source]


Harvard University: Alcohol: Balancing Risks and Benefits


Can wine affect the liver?

Wine good for the liver?

Wine and fatty liver

How much wine is safe to drink?



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