The tart taste of a good wine or the frothy satisfaction of a beer on a hot afternoon – most of us indulge in a little now and again, but how much is too much though?

The author of The Good News About Booze, Tony Edwards, looked at some interesting research on the effects of alcohol and found that far from being harmful, what researchers term as ‘moderate’ drinking could actually be really good for your health. In fact, drinking up to 15g of alcohol a day (what he counts as a medium glass) reduced the risk of breast cancer by up to 42%.

Alcohol can also help prevent the common cold – a study that Harvard and Spanish universities found this with staggeringly good results. Another US survey, done in 2012 found that while alcohol is blamed for most liver diseases, it's more gene based than dependent on alcohol.

Edwards puts it pretty perfectly when he writes, “Most of the evidence suggests that if red wine, in particular — and to a lesser degree white wine, beer, lager and spirits — were used as a preventive and therapeutic medicine, disease rates would fall substantially. Not only that, but lives would be saved — with huge benefits to the economy.”

That sounds tempting – but don’t drown yourself in the contents of bottle of wine just yet. While alcohol may be good for you, there’s a certain amount that’s good, after which like any other thing, it can tipple into a grey area and become a hazard to your health.

How much is too much?

A cardiologist from the University of Missouri, James H. O’Keefe found that one drink a day is the perfect amount for women, while two is perfect for men. It’s not just him; several other studies around the world define this as an acceptable limit. So, even a ‘moderate’ drinking night with around three drinks could mean you’re harming your health. Remember that one drink is around 13-15g of alcohol – which is a medium glass of wine or a small bottle of beer.

Only the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says that men should not exceed four drinks a day and women shouldn’t exceed three. This is considered to be the safety limit as opposed to the health limit.

So you can drink a glass of wine and not feel guilty about. If you have a medical condition, or are on a specific diet, it may be a worthwhile touching base with your doctor to make sure alcohol consumption is alright though. Cheers!

Just to guide you along, here’s a quick guide of one drink, as put up by Mayo Clinic:

Beer: 12 fluid ounces (355 milliliters)

Wine: 5 fluid ounces (148 milliliters)

Distilled spirits (80 proof): 1.5 fluid ounces (44 milliliters)

Read next: Which drink should you choose at the bar?

Image Courtesy: Glow Images

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