"In the United States, alcohol-related mortality is the third most common cause of death, claiming almost 110,000 lives every year -- over four times the number of deaths from illicit drug use."
"...one alcoholic drink per day raises [breast-cancer] risk by fourteen percent while two and three drinks per day raise breast cancer risk by forty-one and fifty-nine percent, respectively."He then goes on to review studies that show that "moderate alcohol consumption aligns with lower all-mortality rates." This, along with the idea that red wine is "healthy" for you, are consequences of poor control variables in various studies. The studies failed to separate abstainers from the different levels of drinkers. "In some instances, people who had not consumed alcohol for 30 days were considered abstainers." Those who drink healthier levels of alcohol also exhibit healthier choices in other areas of life as well.
Further on he talks about how drinking away from meals and binge drinking are "loser's games." In an Italian study, it was found that those who drank outside of meals suffered larger rates of mortality, especially in women. Binge drinking has been shown to cause episodes of arrhythmia, most often post-holidays and long weekends. This has caused an unofficial coining of the term "holiday-heart syndrome."
Ultimately, it is recommended that no more than 1-2 drinks be consumed and they should be accompanied with a meal.
Now I'll be honest, I haven't cut back on my drinking since reading this information. I never drink excessively to begin with, consuming at most 3 or 4 drinks. I also don't always drink with a meal either.
I relay this information here for you so you can make an educated decision for yourself rather than just assuming what's been told to you.
It is in my personal belief that alcohol, when used appropriately and maturely, provides a net positive effect on overall health because it is a great way to let loose and enjoy life. We all know stress kills, and alcohol surely helps there.
Note: DO NOT use alcohol as a crutch to relieve your stress, but rather an additional tool in your enjoyment of life. Alcohol dependance is a serious issue and you should seek proffessional help.
Otherwise, take a shot!