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Pour Decisions? Assessing Alcohol Risk

From graduations and vacations to Cinco de Mayo margaritas, Americans do a lot celebrating in the spring continuing into summer. But as you consider cracking open a beer, Harbin Clinic wants to give you the facts on alcohol consumption.  Sometimes, choosing not to raise a glass in American culture can feel like it draws more attention than choosing to drink. So, what risks do we take when we choose to drink? The most commonly understood alcohol risks are those associated with over-indulgence. But recent research also sheds light on alcohol-related cancer risk.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the more alcohol one consumes, the higher the risk that person has of developing cancer. In fact, the International Agency on Research for Cancer lists alcohol in carcinogenic group 1 along with asbestos, radiation and tobacco. Even at light to moderate drinking levels, research has found evidence of cancer risk. Ultimately, WHO states that, at this time, no safe amount of alcohol consumption for cancers can be established.

In response, several countries are now discussing whether alcoholic beverages need cancer warning labels. Ireland has already passed laws to begin including cancer warning labels on alcoholic beverages.


Every person is comfortable with different levels of health risk.  For example, every day we make health risk decisions like choosing to get in a car to commute to work. So, how do we begin to assess personal risk related to alcohol?

The best way to get a clear picture of your health risk is to meet with a healthcare provider. Your physician can help you weigh the risks or benefits for your age, sex, personal medical history, family history, diet, physical fitness and other lifestyle choices. Still, without knowing your personal health factors, the most definitive answer in medical research is, “For individuals without medical conditions, research suggests that the healthiest ‘dose’ of alcohol is less than one alcoholic drink daily.”

Dr. Shalini Reddy with Harbin Clinic Family Medicine Rome stated it another way, “I encourage patients to be mindful of alcohol consumption.  Alcohol is a drug.  Understanding your limits, recognizing warning signs of dependency and making informed choices can significantly impact overall health and wellbeing.”[EE1] [EL2] 

Want to understand more about alcohol intake and whether it is affecting your health? Make an appointment with your primary care provider today.[EE3]  Our physicians are ready and willing to answer your questions about alcohol. Or do you still need to connect with a primary care provider? Start by building a relationship with a physician. Learn more about Harbin Clinic providers who are ready to care for you completely: [EE4].

Published May 1, 2024

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