April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and it’s a good time to refresh your knowledge about the dangers of consuming too much alcohol. Most people know about the short-term effects of binge drinking, but even worse than a hangover are the long-term effects that excessive alcohol consumption can have on your body. Here are a few things you need to know about excessive alcohol use and how it can affect your health:
- People who drink alcohol should limit their intake to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women (the recommended limit is lower for women because of their smaller body size and slower breakdown of alcohol).
- One standard drink is either 12 fluid ounces of regular beer, 5 fluid ounces of wine or 1.5 fluid ounces of distilled spirits (gin, rum, tequila, vodka, etc.).
- Only 39% of Americans are aware that alcohol consumption is a risk factor for cancer.
- According to data from the American Cancer Society, alcohol consumption is a risk factor for three of the top ten cancer killers. For males, it increases risk of liver, colorectal and esophageal cancer. For females, it increases the risk of breast cancer.
- New data has linked alcohol consumption in women before their first pregnancy to an increased risk of breast cancer.
- Many of the biggest behavioral drivers of cancer risk, including excessive alcohol consumption, begin in childhood and adolescence. This makes early prevention critically important.
- Studies have found that excessive alcohol and tobacco use can be gateways for subsequent substance abuse, especially if you begin use as a young adult.
You can learn more about the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption at www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health.