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While WHO has said that no amount of drinking is safe, many doctors told us how people buy into certain myths that make them feel okay about drinking. Like thinking beer isn’t really alcohol or that having just one drink a day is totally fine. These myths give them reasons to drink without feeling guilt. Gastroenterologist Dr. Pavan Dhoble from P. D. Hinduja Hospital & Medical Research Centre, Mahim, is really concerned about this. He points out how troublesome it is that people still believe in these myths, especially now that WHO has even labeled alcohol as a grade-1 carcinogen. “Now, there’s a big push for liquor bottles to have scary warnings on them, just like cigarette packets do.” He is sounding the alarm about how serious this issue is.

But beer isn’t alcohol, doctor!

Many people choose beer when aiming for conscious drinking, often under the misconception that beer isn’t truly alcoholic, and some even believe it helps clear kidney stones. However, this is far from true. Dr Sakshi Singh from the Department of Internal Medicine, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad agrees. “The perception that beer is not considered an alcoholic beverage by some people might stem from its lower alcohol content compared to spirits or wine. However, beer does contain alcohol and can contribute to alcohol-related health issues. The idea that beer can help “clean out” kidney stones is a misconception. While staying hydrated can help prevent kidney stones, the diuretic effect of alcohol can actually lead to dehydration, potentially worsening kidney stone issues. It’s important to rely on medical advice for the treatment and prevention of kidney stones.” Dr Pavan adds, “It’s an Ostrich phenomenon, alcohol in any beverage form has the same effects.”

My friend who has not touched alcohol got fatty liver!

Doctors share how they are often told by patients that they know friends or relatives who never touched a drink yet got fatty liver. Dr Pavan clarifies, “It’s another myth. Alcohol and obesity are both main causes of fatty liver. In the Indian population unfortunately co-exist, that’s why we need to cut off alcohol consumption from our lifestyle. Dr Sakshi adds, “The development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) indeed shows that alcohol is not the only cause of liver disease. NAFLD is associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other metabolic syndromes. However, this doesn’t negate the harmful effects of alcohol on the liver. Alcohol can exacerbate liver damage in those with NAFLD and can lead to alcoholic fatty liver disease or alcoholic steatohepatitis, which can progress to cirrhosis. Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases highlight the importance of a healthy lifestyle and moderation in alcohol consumption.”

“I just have one peg a day”

When people point to people who drink a small amount of alcohol daily and argue that they’re healthy, it’s crucial to recognize that individual tolerance and the health outcomes will vary in everyone. “While some research suggests moderate alcohol consumption may have certain health benefits, these studies are often observational and cannot prove causation. Health effects depend on a wide range of factors including genetics, lifestyle, and the type of alcohol consumed. It’s always best to follow health guidelines and consult with a healthcare professional about what’s appropriate for your personal health,” shares Dr Sakshi.

Before WHO came forth with its new guidelines, moderate drinking was defined as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. A “drink” is typically considered to be 18 ml of pure alcohol. This roughly translates roughly to 354 ml of beer (with about 5% alcohol content), 148 ml of wine (with about 12% alcohol content) and 45 ml of distilled spirits or liquor (with about 40% alcohol content). However, it’s important to note that what is considered “safe” can vary significantly depending on factors like age, sex, weight, health conditions, medications, and individual tolerance.

One thought on ““But Beer Is Not Alcohol!” Doctors Share Why People Should Stop Making Excuses About Drinking”
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