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Alcohol can hurt your health, particularly if you drink a lot.

Alcohol: How much is too much? Find out.

Reviewed 6/9/2021

Drinking to excess

Alcohol can hurt your health, particularly if you drink a lot.

Excessive drinking—which includes binge drinking—is one of the leading preventable causes of death in the U.S. Keep reading to learn more about what constitutes heavy drinking and binge drinking and how they can harm your health.

WHAT'S A DRINK?

Each of these constitutes one drink:

  •  A 12-ounce bottle of beer (5% alcohol).
  • A 1.5-ounce shot of hard liquor (40% alcohol).
  • A 5-ounce glass of wine (12% alcohol).

WHAT IS HEAVY DRINKING?

For women, eight or more drinks per week is considered heavy.

For men, 15 or more drinks per week is considered heavy.

WHAT IS BINGE DRINKING?

For women, four or more drinks per sitting—a two- to three-hour span—is considered binge drinking.

For men, five or more drinks per sitting is considered binge drinking.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE RISKS OF DRINKING?

Short-term risks:

  • Motor vehicle crashes.
  • Falls and other injuries.
  • Alcohol poisoning.
  • Risky sexual behavior.
  • Miscarriage and stillbirth.
  • Violence.

Long-term risks:

  • Liver disease.
  • Cardiovascular problems.
  • Increased cancer risk.
  • Trouble at work.
  • Relationship problems.
  • Mental health issues.

DO YOU HAVE A DRINKING PROBLEM?

FIND OUT

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

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