For many of us, alcohol is an automatic part of the social events that punctuate our lives. Booze is a staple at Friday happy hours or boozy brunches or toasts to mark big milestones like graduations or weddings or promotions. And we may not give it a second thought because we’ve heard over and over again that it’s fine to drink in moderation.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans seem to echo this sentiment that moderate drinking is safe. They recommend no more than two drinks a day for men or one daily drink for women. One drink, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes, could be a 12-ounce (oz) beer, 8 oz of malt liquor, a 5-oz glass of wine, or a 1.5-oz shot of hard liquor like gin, rum, vodka, or whiskey.

These guidelines also caution against heavy drinking and binge drinking — and stress that less is more when it comes to alcohol. Beyond this, the guidelines also emphasize that nobody should start drinking just because they think there might be health benefits.

That begs the question: Is drinking alcohol actually healthy?


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