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Straight, No Chaser: Alcohol Facts and Fiction – The Myth Busters Edition

By Jeffrey Sterling, MD November 14, 2018

alcohol and carbohydrates
I’m going to put my personal spin on an old favorite: Alcohol Facts vs. Fiction.  Here’s your six-pack (plus one for the road) of common myths just waiting to be busted.
1. If I drink too much, I’ll get a beer belly.

  • FALSE: Any ‘belly’ is caused by poor dietary intake and insufficient exercise.  A beer drinker who’s otherwise in shape won’t have a beer belly.  The young lady in the picture above is more likely to get a beer belly from the potato chips than the booze, which will give her plenty else about which to be concerned.

2. I get drunker from mixing dark liquor and light liquor, or from switching between beers and wines.

  • FALSE: You’re drunk exclusively because of the concentration of alcohol in your body.  Nothing more or less.

3. Drinking coffee sobers me up.

  • FALSE: Alcohol in eliminated from the body by a certain fixed percentage per hour, regardless of height, weight, age or sex.  Nothing you’re doing, including drinking coffee or taking a cold shower is accelerating that process.

4. A man of the same height and weight as a woman can more easily tolerate the same amount of liquor.

  • TRUE: Women tend to get more affected by liquor than men because women (on average) have a higher proportion of fat stores than men.  This allows the blood alcohol concentrate to become higher in women quicker when consuming the same amounts.

5. Drinking more frequently helps me ‘hold my liquor’ better.

  • TRUE OR FALSE, YOU SHOULD BE CONCERNED IF THIS IS HAPPENING.  If you find yourself better able to hold your liquor, your first concern should be whether or not you’re exhibiting signs of alcohol tolerance, with is an indication of dependency.

6. I can drive home because one or two drinks don’t make me drunk.

  • FALSE: For your purposes, drunk is a legal definition based on your blood alcohol concentration (BAC).  Even if you feel fine, after a single drink, your BAC will be high enough to get you put behind bars if something happens and you’re tested, regardless as to how you ‘feel’.

7. I’m not an alcoholic, I’m a drunk.  Alcoholics go to meetings.  Drunks go to parties.

  • FALSE and only FUNNY until someone dies.
  • Actually, you both go to the emergency room. And to jail. Way too often. Like this guy arrested for a DWI after crashing into a cop car while wearing the shirt.  Stay classy.

alcoholicdrunk
If you have any other questions or myths you’d like busted, tee them up for me, and I’ll address them.  Cheers!

0 thoughts on “Straight, No Chaser: Alcohol Facts and Fiction – The Myth Busters Edition

  1. Dr. Sterling, I’ve read that antioxidant properties can help mitigate radical damage, and how resveratrol, a compound found in grape skins, has a direct effect on protecting our hearts and helps with physical endurance. Can you please elaborate on the pros and cons of a single glass of red wine?

    1. Everything you noted is correct. That said, have you ever noticed how you don’t find physicians generally proactively recommending drinking red wine to patients? Bottom line, in moderation this can be a good thing, and some people just can’t be trusted (thinking if a little is good…). The antioxidants you alluded to (polyphenols) can reduce blood clots and damage to blood vessels while lowering your bad cholesterol levels. And yes, this is also found in the skin of grapes. The safest recommendation, all things considered, would be to eat more red grapes and drink grape juices (I can hear the collective moaning in the audience). Thanks for the question.

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