Skip to main content

Healthwise

All stories

Q: How much alcohol is safe to drink?

The bottom line is that drinking any amount alcohol comes with risks -- from being more likely to engage in unsafe behaviors, to increasing your risk of cancer and other health problems. The more you drink, the greater your risk. However, if you do choose to drink, you can manage some of that risk by drinking in moderation.

The CDC defines moderate drinking as up to one drink a day for women, or two drinks a day for men. That’s based on a 12-ounce serving of beer (at 5% ABV), a 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.

It’s important to know that even drinking a moderate amount of alcohol increases your risk of some health issues, including several types of cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

However, the risks are greater for people who engage in heavy drinking (15 or more drinks per week for men, or eight or more drinks for women) or binge drinking (consuming five or more drinks in a session for men, or four or more for women).

Excessive drinking has been linked to negative health outcomes including traumatic injuries, breast cancer and other cancers, liver disease, depression, sleep disorders, and stroke.

For some people, no amount of alcohol is safe, including people who’ve had hemorrhagic stroke; people with liver, pancreatic disease, or heart failure; and people who’ve been diagnosed with alcohol addiction. It’s also not safe to consume any alcohol if you’re pregnant.

If you are interested in cutting back your alcohol consumption, there are resources to help.

Visit www.mauihealth.org/drinkless or talk with your doctor about where to start.