According to the World Health Organization (WHO), each person 15 years or older consumes on average 13.5 grams of pure alcohol per day. It also found that half of that population doesn’t drink at all, leaving only half of that group to consume that average for the other half. America, in particular, prefers beer over liquor according to the Beverage Marketing Corp. In 2017, the average drinking age adult consumed 27 gallons of beer, 2.6 gallons of wine and 2.2 gallons of spirits. While this amount is lower than much of the rest of the world, with the United States ranking 36th in average yearly consumption, the amounts still have health concerns to be aware of.

Beer is typically saturated in empty calories. A standard drink is measured at 0.6 fluid ounces or 14 grams of pure alcohol. That typically ends up being a standard can of beer, a small glass of wine or a very small shot of spirits. With the increase in popularity of craft beers, the standard becomes less applicable. For instance, a 12 ounce can of beer would typically weigh in with 153 calories and a light beer would rate at 100 calories. When alcoholic content is changed, typically the caloric content changes along with it. India pale ales (IPAs) for instance have both higher alcoholic content and higher calories in the same can, averaging at about 325 calories, roughly the same as a McDonald’s cheeseburger. Wine has similar variances. Do you pour your glass to the rim or the actual standard which is just a bit less than half a typical wine glass? 125 calories are present in the standard ‘drink’ but that’s doubled if opting to fill up the glass as much as possible.

Discovery InstituteThis all plays into secondary health issues such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The relationships are very complicated for these and depend heavily on how often binge drinking occurs, with binge drinking being defined as 8 drinks or more or simply ‘drinking to get drunk’. If moderating drinking with 2 to 3 drinks a week, alcohol can help older people with issues like cholesterol due to the blood thinning that can occur with alcohol use. However, alcohol is also inflammatory, so when combined with binge drinking, arterial damage can occur. This is one of the reasons for even non-fatal symptoms of heavy alcohol use like rosacea, a skin condition caused by damage arteries which results in reddening and puffing of skin in the cheeks and nose. However combined with the high calories, this inflammatory aspect of alcohol, whether from binge drinking or long term alcohol abuse, contributes in large part to heart problems and complicates cancer, which itself typically begins from inflammation.

Alcoholism is itself an illness, which can be difficult to handle alone. If you are addicted or think someone you know might be addicted to alcohol or another substance like cocaine or opioids, contact The Discovery Institute rehab in NJ at 844-478-6563 to speak to a professional counselor confidentially about diagnosis and treatment options. We are one of the highest rated Rehabs in NJ promoting sober living in New Jersey.


Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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