Expert Answers to Readers’ Questions

Should I still drink alcohol, since alcohol is both a risk for breast cancer in women and beneficial for heart disease?

That is an extremely difficult question to answer. There is a definite benefit of moderate alcohol consumption on heart disease, however there is also an increased risk of breast cancer with alcohol intake. If you have a strong family history or previous medical history of breast cancer, it is likely best to avoid alcohol. This is a question that requires weighing the risks and benefits of the situation with your primary care physician based on your personal medical history. In addition, there are a number of ways other than alcohol to decrease your risk of heart disease, such as regular physical activity, not smoking or quitting smoking if you currently smoke, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fat and trans fat, and maintaining a healthy weight.

To learn more, read Alcohol: Balancing Risks and Benefits.

What is considered one serving of alcohol?

There is no set standard for what is considered one serving of alcohol. However, a general guideline followed by many health professionals is that one serving of alcohol equals 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 ½ ounces of spirits, such as vodka or whisky.

To learn more, read Alcohol: Balancing Risks and Benefits.

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The aim of the Harvard T.H. Chan of Public Health Nutrition Source is to provide timely information on diet and nutrition for clinicians, allied health professionals, and the public. The contents of this Web site are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Web site. The information does not mention brand names, nor does it endorse any particular products.