Alcohol and Your Health

Alcohol and Your Health

The risk of developing a range of illnesses increases with any amount of alcohol you drink on a regular basis.  However, if people keep within the recommended limits, you can reduce the risk.

In Ireland a standard drink has about 10 grams of pure alcohol in it.  In the UK a standard drink, also called a unit of alcohol, has about 8 grams of pure alcohol.

Some examples of a standard drink include:alcoholic drinks

  • A pub measure of spirits (35.5ml)
  • A small glass of wine (12.5% volume)
  • A half pint of normal beer
  • An alcopop (275ml bottle)


A bottle of wine at 12.5% alcohol contains about seven standard drinks.

According to recommendations made by the HSE, low risk weekly guidelines for adults are:

  • up to 11 standard drinks in a week for women
  • up to 17 standard drinks in a week for men


Drinks should be spaced out over the week, not consumed in one sitting.  Drinking more than the safe levels may cause harm.  Heavy and prolonged drinking can lead to a wide range of health problems, including certain cancers, liver disease, stroke, high blood pressure and can affect mental health.  Binge drinking can often result in vomiting, collapse and seizures which can be potentially life threatening.


Alcohol and Weight Gain

Be aware that alcohol us high in calories and so can contribute to weight gain.  One gram of alcohol provides seven calories (7kcal), compared with 9kcal per gram for fat, and 4kcal per gram for carbohydrate and protein.  However other ingredients in alcoholic drinks, such as sugar, cream and fruit juice, can add more calories.

Calorie content of different drinks:wine glass with measuring tape around it

  • Pint lager: 200 calories
  • Pint stout: 170 calories
  • Pint cider: 210 calories
  • Longneck cider: 122 calories
  • Longneck alcopop: 220 calories
  • Medium glass wine (175ml): 130 calories
  • Pub measure vodka, gin, brandy, whisky: 80 calories
  • Pub measure cream liqueur:120 calories

Many people forget to include drinks including alcohol when they are watching or recalling what they eat.  It’s easy for these calories to add up quickly and unnoticed as they are being consumed as a liquid.


Trying to cut down?

  • Let your friends and family know you are trying to cut down so they can support youperson refusing glass of wine
  • Always try to eat before you start drinking
  • Always have a glass or bottle of water with you or a jug of water on the table as well as your alcoholic drink
  • Think about the strength of your drink – choose beers or lagers that contain less alcohol (they will have lower ‘abv’, or ‘alcohol by volume’)
  • Sip a drink slowly so it lasts longer
  • Replace high calorie mixer for a lower calorie one e.g. low calorie tonic or diet cola and alternate drinks with water/diet/low calorie drinks
  • Try white wine as a spritzer mixed with sparkling water
  • Choose smaller measures or use smaller glasses at home


More Information

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Liam Leech, BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science, MSc. ANutr.

Liam Leech

BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science, MSc. ANutr.


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