The Doctor Is In: Alcohol myths and realities

Posted on: 1:57 pm, December 2, 2013, by

(KPLR) – Dr. Sonny Saggar made another Monday visit to the studio and this time his topic of concern was alcohol consumption.

Dr. Saggar separated fact from myth when discussing the truth about alcohol.

Connect with Dr. Saggar, the Medical Director at St. Louis Urgent Cares at:
• Twitter: @DoctorIsInSTL
• Facebook: DoctorIsInSTL
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Dr. Saggar said that a woman is considered a heavy drinker if she drinks more than seven drinks in a week.

Men are considered heavy drinkers if they exceed four drinks in a day or more than 14 per week.

A drink is defined as 0.6 ounces of alcohol, roughly the amount in 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.

Dr. Saggar said that contrary to some people’s beliefs, heavy drinking does not have any health benefits.  Drinking frequently will only increase the risk for cancer, diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver, stroke, and high blood pressure.

Heavy drinking may also drastically alter the brain after a period of time.  It may cause the brain to shrink in size, possibly reducing mental capabilities. 

Heavy drinkers may experience memory loss, problem solving difficulty, and learning deficits. 

Alcohol can also harm sleep, mood, and motor skills.

While excessive drinking brings negative effects, it has been proven that moderate drinking may have some benefits for the heart.

Moderate drinking raises the good cholesterol and lowers the risk of heart disease.

Dr. Saggar stressed that the key word is moderate.  Heavy drinking over time weakens the heart.

Dr. Saggar also said that those who drink moderately, may outlive those who do not drink at all.

Research has shown that moderate alcohol consumption is linked to reduced death rate in middle-aged and older adults.

One of the alcohols with the most health benefits is red wine.  There is evidence that shows red wine is very beneficial for the heart.

According to the American Heart Association, red wine increases good cholesterol, and the grape skin provides antioxidant substances that protect the heart and vessels.

Dr. Saggar said that pina coladas are one of the highest calorie alcoholic drinks.  They have a higher calorie content than red wine, white wine, or beer. 

Acoholic drinks provide a big source of calories, therefore it is easy to put on weight while drinking heavily.

While heavy drinking has been shown to damage the brain, moderate alcohol consumption has actually been shown to reduce dementia.

Binge drinking is a huge problem in the United States, making up 75% of all drinking.

Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks on one occasion for women and five or more for men.

Binge drinking has similar negative effects to long term heavy drinking.  Those who binge drink are more likely to suffer from health issues such as high blood pressure and heart attacks.

Binge drinking also increases the likelihood of contracting a STD, having an unplanned pregnancy, and being a victim of violence.

Studies show well-educated, higher-income individuals are more likely to participate in binge drinking than their poorer, less-educated counterparts.

Most binge drinkers are not alcoholics.  Binge drinkers usually drink casually but sometimes drink excessively.  They are not addicted to alcohol as those suffering from alcoholism are.

While binge drinking, many people tend to mix caffeine and alcohol.

Dr. Saggar stressed how hazardous this can be.  Caffeine covers the effects of the alcohol and keeps people from knowing their level of intoxication.

Dr. Saggar warned that women especially need to be aware of their alcohol consumption because they are influenced stronger than men.

Men and women metabolize alcohol differently, causing women’s organs to be exposed to more alcohol content.

St. Louis Urgent Cares presently has 4 locations in St. Louis, and all 4 are active participants in Direct Medical Care: Downtown Urgent Care, Eureka Urgent Care and Creve Coeur Urgent Care, and North City Urgent Care.

Connect with Dr. Saggar, the Medical Director at St. Louis Urgent Cares at:
• Twitter: @DoctorIsInSTL
• Facebook: DoctorIsInSTL
• Blog: