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Logo: Rethinking Drinking - Alcohol and your health

What's "low-risk" drinking?

A major nationwide survey of 43,000 U.S. adults by the National Institutes of Health shows that only about 2 in 100 people who drink within both the single-day and weekly limits below have alcoholism or alcohol abuse. How do these "low-risk" levels compare with your drinking pattern?

Low risk drinking levels - On any single day:   Men, no more than 4 drinks on any day.  Women, no more than 3 drinks on any day. Per week:  Men, no more than 14 drinks per week.  Women no more than 7 drinks per week.

“Low risk” is not “no risk.” Even within these limits, drinkers can have problems if they drink too quickly, have health problems, or are older (both men and women over 65 are generally advised to have no more than 3 drinks on any day and 7 per week). Based on your health and how alcohol affects you, you may need to drink less or not at all.

When is "low-risk" drinking still too much?

It's safest to avoid alcohol altogether if you are

Why are women's low-risk limits different from men's?

Research shows that women start to have alcohol-related problems at lower drinking levels than men do. One reason is that, on average, women weigh less than men. In addition, alcohol disperses in body water, and pound for pound, women have less water in their bodies than men do. So after a man and woman of the same weight drink the same amount of alcohol, the woman's blood alcohol concentration will tend to be higher, putting her at greater risk for harm. For more information, see Alcohol: A Women's Health Issue.