Consumer Reports: How much alcohol is too much?

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Chances are you've heard that alcohol in moderation may offer certain health benefits. But do the pluses of moderate drinking really outweigh the minuses?

With the holidays just around the corner, there's plenty of reason to celebrate with a cocktail or two. But how much is too much?

Many studies have found that alcohol in moderate amounts - 1 drink a day for women and 2 drinks a day for men - is linked to lower risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from cardiac-related problems.

Other research suggests moderate drinking may be linked to an elevated risk of breast cancer and - especially among smokers - of esophageal and mouth cancers.

One study even found that men who drank moderately had higher odds of a brain condition that could be a sign of early Alzheimer's.

So how do you make sense of all of this? Most experts agree that even though it's not totally without risk, 1 drink daily or 2 if you're a man, is fine.

"Anything more and you should consider cutting back. And that means really sticking within the U.S. guidelines for moderation," said Julia Calderone, Consumer Reports Health Editor.

One drink has a standard pour depending on the kind of alcohol. For example, for wine it's 5 ounces, for beer 12 ounces and for hard liquor an ounce and a half.

But make no mistake, looks can be deceiving, especially when it comes to wine glasses. Use a measuring cup or a shot glass to ensure you are pouring the right amount.

And sip water between drinks to help you slow down at those holiday office parties or family gatherings.

Experts also say the potential benefits of drinking moderately are not so great that if you are a non-drinker, there's no reason to start now.

To read the full story from Consumer Reports:

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