Risks and Resources for Alcohol Consumption

Jan. 31, 2023

Nearly 17% of adults in Arizona report regularly consuming excessive amounts of alcohol. Regardless of whether you fall within this category, it can be beneficial to be aware of the guidelines and risks of alcohol to create or maintain healthy habits. 

The guidelines for alcohol

The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults of legal drinking age (21 years and older) can choose not to drink or drink in moderation, with two drinks or less a day for men and one drink or less for women. 

Avoid drinking alcohol if you:

  • Are under the legal drinking age
  • Are pregnant or may be pregnant
  • Have health problems that could be made worse by drinking 

Risks of alcohol

When drinking alcohol, your body breaks it down into a chemical called acetaldehyde, which damages your DNA and can create a cancerous tumor. Excessive drinking, with five or more drinks for men or four or more drinks for women during a single occasion, can lead to chronic diseases, including high blood pressure, weakening of the immune system, alcohol use disorders, and the following types of cancer:

  • Mouth
  • Throat
  • Esophagus
  • Liver
  • Breast (in women)
  • Colon and rectum

Risks for moderate alcohol use in healthy adults are not entirely clear.

Resources for healthy drinking:

Although everyone’s drinking habits look different, it is evident that drinking too much alcohol can be harmful. This tool, made by the CDC, checks your drinking and can give advice. If you want to drink less, it can also help you build a plan to make healthier choices. Additionally, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers a free, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. Call 1-800-622-4357.