Myth Busters

Do you know the facts?

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There are so many stories around alcohol and drinking that it’s hard to know what to believe. Being informed about the facts is the best way to make sure that you drink safely and reduce your risk.

Red Wine is good for you


We have all read claims that red wine is good for the heart. However, a review from the Committee on Carcinogenicity (CoC) on alcohol and cancer risk has concluded there is no justification for drinking for health reasons. The benefits of alcohol for heart health only apply for women aged 55 and over and the greatest benefit is seen when these women limit their intake to around 5 units a week, the equivalent of around 2 standard glasses of wine. The CoC review found that drinking even a small amount of alcohol increases the risk of some cancers compared with people who do not drink at all.

It is okay to save my units up for the weekend


If you regularly drink as much as 14 units per week, it is best not to ‘save up’ the 14 units for 1 or 2 days, but to spread them over 3 or more days. People who have 1 or 2 heavy drinking sessions each week increase the risk of death from long term illnesses, accidents and injuries. A good way to reduce alcohol intake is to have several alcohol free days a week.

Moderate alcohol consumption is good for your health


Evidence shows that any level of regular drinking can increase your risk of cancer. You can keep your risks low by consuming less than 14 units of alcohol per week, but there are no proven population wide health benefits from drinking alcohol. In fact, alcohol is linked with over 60 different medical conditions.

Drinking water can reduce the effects of a hangover


Food and water may ease some of the symptoms of a hangover; however, they won’t cure it completely. The best way to avoid one is to moderate your drinking and have water between alcoholic drinks.

Alcohol is a stimulant


Alcohol is actually a depressant. Initially, you may feel more energetic or cheerful because alcohol depresses your inhibitions. However, it will then slow down the way you think, speak, move and react.

Alcohol can contribute to weight gain


There are around 200 calories in a large glass of red wine or a pint of lager. And any sugar in mixers or cocktails comes on top of the calorie content in spirits. Alcohol can also reduce our self-control, making it easy to eat too much. Find out more.

Beer gets you less drunk


An average pint of beer (ABV 5%), large glass of wine (250ml, ABV 11%) or a ‘large’ double vodka and coke (70ml, ABV 38 to 40%) all have around 2.8 units of alcohol. It's the alcohol itself that makes you drunk, so it doesn’t matter what type of drink you have.

Drinking on a full stomach reduces the risk of getting drunk


Eating a big meal before you go out will not prevent you from getting drunk. It will only delay the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. However, it is best to eat a proper meal before a night out, especially foods rich in carbohydrates and proteins.

Introducing children to alcohol earlier make them less likely to binge drink


Evidence shows drinking alcohol can damage a child's health even if they're 15 or older. It can affect the development of vital organs and functions, including the brain, liver, bones and hormones, and can be linked to depression and risky behaviour. Young people who start drinking at an early age drink more, and more frequently, than those who delay their first alcoholic drink. They are also more likely to have problems with alcohol later in life. Setting clear boundaries as a parent can help.

Mixing drinks will make you more drunk


Your blood alcohol content is what determines how drunk you are. Mixing drinks may make you feel sicker by upsetting your stomach, but not more intoxicated.

Drinking more than a glass of wine a day may reduce your chances of getting pregnant


Women who drink a lot can find it more difficult to conceive. A study reported by the British Medical Journal found that as few as five drinks every week may decrease a woman's chance of becoming pregnant. If you want to conceive, it's best to avoid alcohol completely.

Drinking too much alcohol can reduce male fertility


Alcohol decreases fertility by having an adverse effect on sperm quality and quantity. Men trying for a family may want to consider reducing their overall alcohol consumption.