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Alcoholism

Most people can tolerate up to two drinks a day without being harmed. A drink is defined as the amount of alcohol that causes significant blood levels for one hour: 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer or a shot glass of alcohol.

When you consistently take in more than two drinks a day, you increase your risk for liver damage, high blood pressure and breast cancer. Alcoholics have a difficult time stopping drinking, once they take in any alcohol, often continuing to drink to the point where it interferes with their relationships and duties. Binge drinking shortens life, even in people who go through long periods of abstinence (1).

Alcoholics may have no outward signs of their disease, but clues include shakiness, swelling at the angle of the jaw and mouth odor. Alcoholism runs in families, occurs most often in people who work around alcohol and have friends who drink. Alcohol is a rich source of calories, so taking in lots of alcohol usually causes a person to eat less food, but according to a study in the Journal of Studies in Alcohol, a high carbohydrate, low protein diet tends to reduce intake of alcohol, while a low carbohydrate, high protein foods increases it (2). People who want to restrict alcohol should eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans and low in meat, dairy products and eggs.

No drugs control alcoholism; Antabuse (disulfiram) offers little benefit. The only cure is for the victim to be willing to avoid alcohol and people who drink.

1) J Kauhanen, GA Kaplan, DE Goldberg, JT Salonen. Beer binging and mortality: results from the Kuopio ischaemic heart disease risk factor study, a prospective population based study. British Medical Journal 315: 7112 (OCT 4 1997):846-851. The pattern of beer binging is associated with increased risk of death, independently of the total average consumption of alcoholic drinks.

2) OA Forsander. Dietary influences on alcohol intake: A review. Journal of Studies on Alcohol 59: 1 (JAN 1998):26-31. Address OA Forsander, Natl Publ Hlth Inst, Dept Alcohol Res, POB 719, FIN-00101 Helsinki, Finland.

3) KH Dermen, ML Cooper, VB Agocha. Sex-related alcohol expectancies as moderators of the relationship between alcohol use and risky sex in adolescents. Journal of Studies on Alcohol 59: 1 (JAN 1998):71-77.

Checked 5/6/12

June 1st, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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