Drinking Limits

What impact does alcohol have on health?

Drinking too much – on a single occasion or over time – can take a serious toll on your health.  Alcohol can have on impact on the heart, liver, pancreas, and immune system. Alcohol use has also been associated with several different types of cancers including cancers of the mouth, esophagus, throat, liver, and breast.   

Find our more about how alcohol impacts health at NIAAA's resource Beyond Hangovers: Understanding alcohol's impact on your health or CDC's Alcohol Use and Your Health infographic.


Maximum Drinking Limits

According to the National Institue on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the following are the recommended Maximum Drinking Limits. People, with exceptions noted below, are advised to stay within these limits:

For healthy men up to age 65

  • no more than 4 drinks a day AND
  • no more than 14 drinks in a week

For healthy women (and healthy men over age 65)

  • no more than 3 drinks in a day AND
  • no more than 7 drinks in a week

Lower limits or abstinence should be recommended as medically indicated: for example, for patients who

  • take medications that interact with alcohol
  • have a health condition exacerbated by alcohol
  • are pregnant (advise abstinence)


The 'Standard Drink'

A standard drink in the United States is any drink that contains about 14 grams of pure alcohol (about 0.6 fluid ounces or 1.2 tablespoons). Below are U.S. standard drink equivalents. These are approximate, since different brands and types of beverages vary in their actual alcohol content.


NIAAA, Helping Patients Who Drink Too Much: A Clinician's Guide