What you should know about ‘medicinal’ cocktails

A lot of research has surfaced that says drinking alcohol can actually make you healthier… especially that glass of red wine with dinner. But then again, so much other research links alcohol consumption to serious diseases like diabetes, dementia and cancer.

That’s not surprising considering chronic exposure to alcohol prevents your pancreas from absorbing a critical nutrient and potent cancer fighter — according to a recent study published in the The American Journal of Physiology – Cell Physiology.

Your pancreas plays an important role in digesting your food, and it also controls your blood sugar levels. In order to complete these functions it needs several critical nutrients, one of which is vitamin C.

If you’re pancreas isn’t getting the nutrients it needs for an extended period of time, eventually you’ll develop a pancreatic disease like pancreatitis.

When you have pancreatitis, your pancreas is inflamed and is being attacked by its own enzymes. It’s extremely painful, usually requires hospitalization and can even lead to death.

And besides pancreatitis, down the line, a poorly functioning pancreas may even develop into chronic issues, like digestive diseases, malnutrition and diabetes.

In other words, a malfunctioning pancreas is major problem that could rob you of your health and your life… which is why drinking should be kept to a minimum.

Of course common sense says the key to ‘healthy’ alcohol consumption is moderation. But without some obvious red flags, how can you be sure you’re not leaning to the unhealthy (and worrisome) end of the drinking scale?

Here is how the Centers for Disease Control break down alcohol consumption…

Women who drink four or more drinks and men who drink five or more drinks at a restaurant, party or other social gathering are officially “binge drinking.”

And women who regularly have eight or more drinks per week — 15 or more drinks per week for men — may be considered “heavy drinkers.”

Looking at these numbers, it’s easy to see how someone could unwittingly cross the line from enjoying the occasional cocktail to excessive drinking depending on circumstances. But when that happens, you can do some serious damage to one of your most vital organs.

If you want to experience the health benefits of drinking rather than the health hazards, stick to one drink per day if you’re a woman and two drinks per day if you’re a man.

  1. “Alcohol and Public Health: Frequently Asked Questions.” Center for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov. Retrieved May 12, 2016.
  2. S. Subramanian, P. Srinivasan, H. M Said. “Uptake of ascorbic acid by pancreatic acinar cells is negatively impacted by chronic alcohol exposure.” American Journal of Physiology – Cell Physiology, 2016.
  3. “What Is the Pancreas?” John Hopkins Pathology. http://pathology.jhu.edu. Retrieved May 12, 2016.
  4. “Alcohol Facts and Statistics.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. http://www.niaaa.nih.gov.
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.