Yes, alcohol can be healthy, but you need to limit your consumption per day then it can more beneficial than harmful.
For the millions of Americans who consume alcohol on a regular basis, the biggest worry cited is often the inevitable hangover. There are possibly other dangers down the road too. These dangers range from hypertension to cancer.
While it is not unheard of for people or even physicians to tout the potential health benefits of drinking moderately, these are considerably outnumbered by the long term detriments. Perhaps strangest of all in the health cloud obscuring the matter is the belief that different alcohols affect the body differently.
Yes, red wine has more potential health benefits than bourbon, but the (absolutely ridiculous) phrase “clear liquors are perfectly safe” is uttered with worrying frequency.
Potentially beneficial effects of alcohol
Moderate drinking has for been linked to decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. Lately, this effect has also shown to occur for diabetes, strokes, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
While there has been no dearth of medical literature attempting to dispute all of these claims, no conclusive results have been found. Red wine has been claimed to be effective in protecting against the common cold.
Harmful effects of alcohol
The most immediate effect of alcohol, and also the least permanent, is the hangover. No matter your drink, be it whiskey, gin, beer, or even wine coolers, your body will react to the severe dehydration caused by excessive alcohol consumption in a negative manner.
Headaches, nausea, dizziness, sensitivity to both light and sound, and even psychological effects such as depression and anxiety are all the result of a single bender.
Overdose is another serious short term risk Thousands of deaths are caused by the acute overconsumption of alcohol each year.
An oft-debated ancillary effect is the thousands of deaths caused by impaired drivers, but this is more attributed to poor decisions than the immediate or long term health effects of alcohol itself.
The heavy, chronic use of alcohol has been shown to impair brain development (sometimes even resulting in brain shrinkage), dementia, and physical dependence. Physical dependence can be an extremely serious problem as it will impair the individual’s life even (or especially) when alcohol is not even being consumed. Death from alcohol withdrawal is not uncommon, and the physical dependence can often be carried for life.
Alcohol abuse has been linked to large and wide spread lesions of the brain. Brain damage from alcohol can also occur due to associated nutritional deficiencies, common disturbances of electrolyte balances, and liver damage.
Memory is often impaired by alcohol (not only in the short term, under its influence). The ability to create new memories can be disturbed, as can the ability to recall old ones.
Sleep and the sleep cycles are affected heavily by alcohol. When you sleep while you are drunk, you do not get a good quality night’s sleep. Alcohol has been linked to a wide variety of cancers and not just of the liver. There is even a strong correlation between the consumption of alcohol and mouth cancer. Cirrhosis of the liver is a common side effect of chronic alcohol consumption.