Minimize the Effects of Alcohol on Your Health

The French, wine connoisseurs at heart, continue to top the wine consumption charts, polishing off, on average, 50-60 litres per person per year in 2011. Australians, come in 8th, consuming on average, 30 litres per person per year (2011).

In France, drinking wine is a cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle, as noted in the essence of toasting – “à la vôtre”-which literally translates as, “to your health!” You’ve heard about the benefits of moderate consumption of red wine, but what about other forms of alcohol? Can alcohol be part of a balanced lifestyle without causing great health risks?

The research is mixed about what levels of alcohol consumption constitute low-risk, but following the most recent national guidelines for alcohol consumption (www.alcohol.gov.au) as developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council, will help you minimise potential harm from drinking, whilst continuing to enjoy the social aspects of conviviality. For starters:

Remember, alcohol affects everyone differently, based on factors such as medical conditions, gender, age, and mental health, so recommendations for low-risk consumption are never one-size-fits- all.

Health risks are cumulative, meaning they increase progressively. So, the more you drink, the more at risk you become for impairment of liver function, heart disease, high blood pressure, various forms of cancer, and brain damage.

In general, follow these simple guidelines when you choose to drink.:

  • Drink slowly
  • Eat before and while you are drinking
  • Drink water or other non-alcoholic beverages in-between rounds
  • Set limits for yourself and stick to them
  • The national guidelines suggest that for healthy men and women, drinking no more than 2 standard drinks on any day reduces your risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury over a lifetime.

But, don’t be fooled, standard serving sizes might be much less than you think!

Beer

  • Glass – 1.1 – 285ml – 4.8% alc. vol
  • Glass – 1.6 – 425ml – 4.8% alc. vol
  • Bottle – 1.4 – 375ml – 4.8% alc. vol
  • Can – 1.4 – 375ml – 4.8 % alc. vol

Wine

  • Glass – 1.4 – 150ml – average restaurant serve sparkling wine – 12% alc. vol
  • Glass – 1.6 – 150ml – average restaurant serve red wine – 13.5 % alc. vol
  • Glass – 1.4 – 150ml – average restaurant serve white wine – 11.5% alc. vol

Spirits

  • Bottle – 1.2 – 330ml – full strength, ready-to-drink – 5% alc. vol
  • Glass – 1 – 30ml – high strength, spirit nip – 40% alc. vol
  • Can – 1.5 – 375ml – full strength, pre-mix spirits – 5% alc. vol

If you or someone you know needs support and treatment to reduce your alcohol intake, you should contact:

  • Your doctor
  • Your local community health service
  • An alcohol or other drug helpline in your state/territory

Contact numbers below: 

  • ACT (02) 6207 9977
  • NSW (02) 9361 8000 (Sydney), 1800 422 599 (NSW country)
  • NT (08) 8922 8399 (Darwin), 1800 131 350 (Territory wide)
  • QLD 1800 177 833
  • SA 1300 131 340
  • TAS 1800 811 994
  • VIC 1800 888 236
  • WA (08) 9442 5000 (Perth), 1800 198 024 (WA country)