Aims: The aim of this consensus paper is to review the available evidence on the association between moderate alcohol use, health and disease and to provide a working document to the scientific and health professional communities.
Data synthesis: In healthy adults and in the elderly, spontaneous consumption of alcoholic beverages within 30 g ethanol/d for men and 15 g/d for women is to be considered acceptable and do not deserve intervention by the primary care physician or the health professional in charge. Patients with increased risk for specific diseases, for example, women with familiar history of breast cancer, or subjects with familiar history of early cardiovascular disease, or cardiovascular patients should discuss with their physician their drinking habits. No abstainer should be advised to drink for health reasons. Alcohol use must be discouraged in specific physiological or personal situations or in selected age classes (children and adolescents, pregnant and lactating women and recovering alcoholics). Moreover, the possible interactions between alcohol and acute or chronic drug use must be discussed with the primary care physician.
Conclusions: The choice to consume alcohol should be based on individual considerations, taking into account the influence on health and diet, the risk of alcoholism and abuse, the effect on behaviour and other factors that may vary with age and lifestyle. Moderation in drinking and development of an associated lifestyle culture should be fostered.
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