While you’ve probably heard there are health benefits to drinking wine – especially red wine – everyone knows a heavy wine habit can have some nasty side effects. But is a glass of wine a day really a good thing? Studies are released all the time promoting the health benefits of wine in moderate consumption but the negative effects of wine can easily creep up if you aren’t counting your drinks. “You do not need to drink every day, and less is probably best,” says Lisa R. Young, Ph.D., RDN, “But if you do drink, the dietary guidelines advise one drink for women and two drinks for but.”
However, consuming wine at this low level is not right for everyone and you should be aware of the potential drawbacks of even light drinking. Before you pour another glass, read on to discover the major effects drinking even a single glass of wine regularly has on your health, according to science. Then you can decide if it’s right for you. (Plus, do not miss Eating Habits to Lose Abdominal Fat As You Age, According to Dietitians.)
“According to guidelines, moderate drinking (one glass a day for women and two a day for men) is generally considered okay for heart health but can increase a person’s risk for hypertension,” says Young. Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, can lead to heart failure and kidney disease.
Alcohol interacts in potentially dangerous ways with many medications, including acetaminophen, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, painkillers, and sedatives, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. It can also render useless antibiotics. Be sure to read warnings on all medications before drinking.
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Even moderate alcohol seems to increase the risk of breast cancer, according to more than 100 epidemiologic studies. Researchers found that for every 10 grams of alcohol consumed per day (about one drink), there was a corresponding 7% increase in the risk of breast cancer.
According to a 2019 research article, drinking a bottle of wine a week — far less than a glass a day — increases a person’s lifetime cancer risk as much as smoking five cigarettes for men and 10 cigarettes for women per week.
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This one’s really scary! Frequently drinking alcohol, even in small amounts, can up your risk of an abnormally fast heartbeat. Researchers found that those who drank every day had the highest risk, compared to those who drank alcohol once or twice a week.
The World Heart Federation (WHF) recently released a policy brief that suggested: “No amount of alcohol is good for the heart.” The brief adds that drinking alcohol has been linked to a slew of diseases like an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary disease, stroke, heart failure, hypertensive heart disease, cardiomyopathy, atrial fibrillation, and aneurysm.
Daily alcohol consumption requires extra work from the liver. The liver makes metabolic enzymes that digest and break up toxins like alcohol. Daily alcohol use can cause fibrosis or scarring of the liver tissue. It can also cause alcoholic hepatitis, which is an inflammation of the liver.
This is one major reason to avoid drinking daily. If you do, you might notice that you catch colds, flu, or other illnesses more frequently. This is because alcohol can weaken the immune system and make the body more susceptible to infections.
While a single glass of wine a night is not indicative of alcoholism, it can be a slippery slope. Having a drink every night does not always lead to alcohol use disorder, but it can increase the risk. According to WebMD, the one drink or fewer guideline is not intended as an average amount of alcohol intake over many days — but rather, as the recommended limit on alcohol consumption on any single day.
“Red wine is often considered healthier because of the high levels of resveratrol,” says Young, “but you can also get this from red grapes. Quantity really matters more.”
READ MORE: One Major Side Effect of Drinking White Wine Instead of Red