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Alcohol: zero risk if consumption is moderate: true or false?

February 23, 2018


Many people believe that their “moderate alcohol consumption” has no health risk. True or false? Professor Carlo Selmi, head of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology at the Humanitas hospital and lecturer at the University of Milan, replied.


“False. Although the effects are more “silent” than the excessive and acute consumption of alcohol, moderate alcohol consumption also has consequences for the body,” the expert explains. Therefore, if Saturday evening hangover is not harmless for the body, it is important to remember that “abuse” of alcohol indicates a daily intake of two and a half glasses of alcoholic beverages for men, one and a half glasses for women. Both alcohol use and abuse have shown to cause adverse effects on the body, such as on the immune system, liver and cardiovascular system. As far as the immune system is concerned, the consumption of alcohol, even if occasional, can have two consequences: a lower effectiveness of immune defenses, which exposes the usual alcohol consumer to a higher risk of contracting infectious diseases; but also its opposite, i.e. an excessive response of the immune system, which can lead to the development of autoimmune diseases. It is a dysfunction of the immune system that can lead to immunodeficiency and production of autoantibodies, i.e. antibodies that do not aim to counteract dangerous external elements but target the body itself. In short, it is as if alcoholic substances sent the body into tilt, making it impossible to respond adequately. Therefore, studies carried out suggest that there is no ‘moderate consumption’ of alcoholic beverages that could limit or avoid harm to the body. The only way to reduce the risk to zero is by abstaining from alcohol altogether.


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