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Drinking more than the recommended daily limits of alcohol can have both immediate and long-term effects on your body. In moderation, drinking can be part of a balanced lifestyle; in excess, the effects can potentially be harmful – it all depends on how, when, and how much you consume, plus your age and other characteristics.

In the short term…

  • The social benefits are immediate – especially when keeping the amount you consume within the recommended limit. It’s a great social lubricant, and when paired with food it can enhance celebratory occasions.

  • But drinking in excess has an array of immediate negative consequences too – including slowed reaction times and impaired judgment, which can lead to injuries and accidents and other risky behaviors. When consumed rapidly in excess, acute alcohol poisoning can result.

In the long term...

  • Scientific research has shown a variety of long term effects from low to moderate consumption of alcohol – some positive and some negative. Various health authorities and medical studies state that moderate consumption of alcohol may be associated with certain health benefits for some adults, including a protective effect against cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

  • Studies have reported an association between any amount of alcohol consumption and an increased risk of breast cancer.

  • Studies have also found that regular heavy drinking has been associated with a number of illnesses, including liver disease, high blood pressure, and an increased risk of certain types of cancer. Many other physical and emotional health problems have been well documented. In extreme cases, heavy drinking can result in brain damage and death.

It is not recommended that anyone starts drinking for any potential health benefits.

It’s always a good idea to contact your healthcare professional if you have any questions or concerns about your drinking. There are also useful links in the Resources section to help you track and better understand your pattern of drinking.

So when consumed moderately, alcohol can be a part of a balanced lifestyle. It’s something that should be enjoyed responsibly with friends to help create moments to treasure and remember, rather than nights to forget – and if you follow our simple tips you’ll be at your best. 

This video provides a simple illustration of alcohol units, measurement and processing that is worth checking out.

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