Alcohol Avoidance

Alcohol Avoidance: Overview

A large global study [Lancet, Vol 392, Issue 10152, pp.987-8, Sep 22, 2018] confirmed previous research that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption.  While moderate drinking may protect against heart disease, the researchers found that the risk of cancer and other diseases outweighs this possible benefit.  The study spanned 195 countries and 26 years.

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For the average regular drinker where addiction is not a problem, continued drinking may have some health, social and psychological benefits.  However, each of these seeming benefits can be achieved by other means, so if it looks like the benefits of regular alcohol consumption are balanced or outweighed by negative consequences, it is appropriate to reduce or stop drinking entirely at least for a trial period of time.  If you find it especially difficult to stop, alcohol use may be more of a problem than you had thought.

Expected Outcome

Many alcoholics who seek treatment find success and they learn to abstain totally from alcohol.  However, the majority – as many as 90% – relapse at least once during the four years following treatment and some 50% relapse within the first few months.  Sometimes a relapse is a necessary part of finding out that they can not just enjoy an occasional drink.  Subsequent treatment attempts may or may not prove successful.

Alcohol Avoidance can help with the following:




Atrial fibrillation can be caused by alcohol.


Many doctors suggest that individuals with cardiomyopathy abstain from alcohol consumption.  People with alcohol-induced cardiomyopathy who avoid alcohol may regain their health.


Carbohydrate Craving

Limit your intake of alcohol, fruit juice and caffeinated drinks e.g. soft drinks.  These cause abrupt blood-sugar highs followed by troublesome blood-sugar lows, leaving you starved for energy.


Heartburn / GERD / Acid Reflux

Avoid or limit alcohol.

Gastric/Peptic/Duodenal Ulcers

No proven relationship exists between peptic ulcer disease and the intake of alcohol.  However, since alcohol can cause gastritis, moderation in alcohol consumption is often recommended.


Pregnancy-Related Issues

Alcohol is definitely harmful for the baby, no matter how much is consumed, especially during the first three months when the baby is forming.  There is also a definite correlation between the amount of alcohol drunk during pregnancy and the severity of the symptoms, and also a link with the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth.  Evidence shows that even pregnant mothers who only drink in moderation have a greater chance of miscarriage and low birth weight babies than those who do not.

Numerous studies have also shown that heavy drinking is extremely damaging for the baby and has the potential to lead to fetal alcohol syndrome.  Such babies have low birth weight, with a smaller head circumference and mental retardation is often present.  Some affected babies have malformed faces and congenital heart defects.

The current recommendation from doctors and health experts is that pregnant women should not drink at all. If the urge is too strong, one standard drink is the absolute maximum.  However, in the first few weeks of pregnancy, it is difficult to know that you are pregnant and this is a particularly crucial stage for the formation of the baby.  So, if you suspect that you are pregnant, or are planning to conceive, you should stay away from alcohol.  The risk of miscarriage doubles with more than two drinks per day.

Female Infertility

Alcohol consumption can prevent implantation of a fertilized egg.


Low Melatonin Level

Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol and sugar, which may interfere with melatonin production.

Lab Values




Drinking alcohol can cause blood sugar to drop in some sensitive individuals.  Hypoglycemia has been well documented in chronic alcoholics and binge drinkers.

Meniere's Disease

The active ingredient in alcoholic drinks is ethyl alcohol, which is rapidly absorbed into the blood.  Once it reaches the brain and inner ear, it dissolves into the inner ear membrane and makes it 'leaky', allowing various minerals and salts to pass in or out, possibly triggering an attack of Meniere's Disease.  Ethanol can also interfere with the metabolism of drugs used to treat Meniere's Disease, causing harmful levels to build up.  Chronic alcohol use can also permanently injure the brain, eyes, and peripheral nerves, all of which are necessary for proper balance.


Poor Bone Health

Alcohol leaches calcium from the bones.

Osteoporosis - Osteopenia

Alcohol is toxic to the cells that form bones and inhibits the absorption of calcium.

Organ Health

Cirrhosis of the Liver

In all cases, regardless of cause, following a healthy diet and avoiding alcohol are essential because the body needs all the nutrients it can get.


Alcohol and hepatitis C virus are synergistic in hastening the development of cirrhosis; patients with hepatitis C infection should abstain from alcohol.

Liver Detoxification / Support Requirement

Acetaldehyde, a metabolic breakdown product of alcohol, is said to destroy vitamins B1, B6 and C. Even though supplements of these nutrients, together with the amino acid cysteine, may help the liver detoxify acetaldehyde, it would be wiser to avoid alcohol, its primary source.


Opinions vary on this subject but, generally speaking, patients may be advised to drink alcohol only moderately.  Heavy drinking is injurious to the kidneys and may actually worsen IgAN.



A "moderate" diet is best in coping with psoriasis, without an excess of rich, fatty, starchy or spicy foods, or alcohol.


Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Alcohol is useful for relaxation but unfortunately it also relaxes the throat muscles and provokes snoring and obstructive apneas.  Alcohol or sedative use near bedtime may thus further depress breathing mechanisms.

Problems Associated With Snoring

Avoid alcohol and sedatives before bedtime.


Diuretics such as alcohol and caffeine may increase urine output and cause nighttime urination.

Tumors, Malignant

Carcinoid Cancer

All carcinoid patients should avoid alcoholic beverages since these can precipitate carcinoid crisis attacks.

Cancer, General

Alcohol drinking is an established risk factor for several malignancies.  In 2012, an estimated 5.5% of all new cancer occurrences and 5.8% of all cancer deaths worldwide were due to alcohol [Int J Cancer 138:pp13807, 2016].  The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) believes that minimizing excessive exposure to alcohol plays an important role in cancer prevention.


Interstitial Cystitis

Avoiding alcoholic beverages may help reduce symptom frequency.

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Alcohol Avoidance can help prevent the following:



Susceptibility To Hangovers

The only sure-fire method of prevention is the obvious – abstinence!

Tumors, Malignant

Stomach Cancer

Reducing alcohol intake will reduce the risk of stomach cancer.

Breast Cancer

Since the original recommendation regarding alcohol was published, researchers at the Harvard Medical School found that even 3 drinks a week put women at increased risk for breast cancer.  Women who had one or more drinks a day were found to be at 60% higher risk than women who did not drink.

Colon Cancer

You should drink under one alcoholic drink a day because drinking alcohol increases your risk of colorectal cancer.  Since it can have both positive and negative effects on your health, you may wish to talk to a health care professional about how alcohol may affect you.

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May be useful: may help with; may help prevent
May be useful:
may help with; may help prevent
Moderately useful: often helps with; often prevents
Moderately useful:
often helps with; often prevents
Very useful: is highly recommended for; usually prevents
Very useful:
is highly recommended for; usually prevents
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