To Drink Or Not To Drink In Menopause
Everyone knows that “everything (or most things) in moderation is good for you”, so how much to drink in menopause? This is especially relevant when we are talking about alcohol intake.
How the consumption of alcohol relates to women’s health during menopause is still being debated.
We know that too much alcohol is detrimental to our health, but some drinking, light or moderate, may be beneficial.
If you don’t drink alcohol please don’t start now, the health benefits aren’t strong enough to recommend you do so.
But if you drink moderately, it may have some positive impact on your health especially if you don’t have any personal or family history risks associated with alcohol consumption.
A standard drink equals:
* 360 millilitres (12 oz) of beer or
* 150 millilitres (5 oz) of wine or
*45 millilitres (1.5 oz) of 80-proof liquor
Many US surveys define:
* light drinking for women – one to three standard drinks per week
* moderate drinking for women – four to seven 7 drinks per week
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines at-risk drinking for women as more than seven standard drinks per week or more than three standard drinks per day. Out of curiosity, the at-risk drinking for men is defined as more than 14 standard drinks per week or more than four standard drinks per day.
Drinking may have some health benefits. Many studies show that drinking moderately reduces cardiovascular disease. On the other hand, heavy drinkers have higher risk of dying from a heart attack. In women after menopause, light to moderate drinking may help increase bone density. Increased bone density may help prevent fractures, and falls increase the risk of fracture. It’s easy to make the connection that heavy drinking that causes intoxication and affects the balance can increase the risk of falls and consequent fractures.
In menopausal women the risk of breast cancer is related to the amount of alcohol consumed.
In The Nurse’s Health Study, women who drank at least two drinks per day had a greater risk of breast cancer than women who didn’t drink any alcohol at all. Therefore, if you have a personal or family history of breast cancer, you should reduce or eliminate your alcohol consumption in order to decrease your risk of developing breast cancer in the future.
Sometimes the risks or benefits depend on the type of alcohol consumed. For example, light to moderate drinking seems to decrease the risk of Type 2 diabetes, however, if a woman drinks distilled spirits the risk increases. Let’s also not forget that heavy drinking can cause weight gain, and that in itself is a risk factor for diabetes.
To drink or not to drink?
The answer depends on your personal and family physical and mental health history, your lifestyle, your preferences and the type of alcohol you ingest, among others.
Teresa Isabel Dias is a pharmacist and Certified Menopause Practitioner (NCMP) who provides education and support on symptom management for women at work and at home so they’ll feel like themselves again and enjoy a vibrant and productive life.
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