Is alcohol good or bad for you?

Chances are you’ve heard that alcohol in moderation may offer certain health benefits. But do the pluses of moderate drinking really outweigh the minuses?

With the holidays just around the corner, there’s plenty of reason to celebrate with a cocktail or two. But how much is too much?

Many studies have found that alcohol in moderate amounts – one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men – is linked to lower risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from cardiac-related problems.

Other research suggests moderate drinking may be linked to an elevated risk of breast cancer and – especially among smokers – of esophageal and mouth cancers.

One study even found that men who drank moderately had higher odds of a brain condition that could be a sign of early Alzheimer’s.

So how do you make sense of all of this? Most experts agree that even though it’s not totally without risk, one drink daily – two if you’re a man – is fine. Anything more and you should consider cutting back. And that means really sticking within the U.S. guidelines for moderation.

One drink has a standard pour depending on the kind of alcohol. For wine, it’s five ounces; for beer, 12 ounces; and for hard liquor, an ounce and a half.

But make no mistake, looks can be deceiving. Use a measuring cup or a shot glass to ensure you are pouring the right amount. And sip water between drinks to help you slow down at those holiday office parties or family gatherings.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2017 Consumer Reports, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org.

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