The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Posted: 07/3/2014 11:12 AM | Comments: 0
Last Modified: 07/4/2014 3:24 AM
WASHINGTON - How strong is that pina colada? Depending on how it's made, it could contain as much alcohol as two glasses of wine.
The National Institutes of Health is trying to spread the word: Take a look at its online alcohol calculator to see how much you're really drinking with those summer cocktails.
A "standard drink" is the amount of alcohol in a 12-ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits. It's a useful way to track alcohol consumption. But the multiple ingredients of mixed drinks make for a harder count.
"Most people don't realize how much alcohol is actually in a drink," said Dr. George Koob, director of the NIH's National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
"Obviously it depends on the bartender and who's mixing the drinks," Koob adds.
Recipes matter: The calculator's pina colada example, for instance, assumes it contains 3 ounces of rum. Plan on using 2 ounces instead? The calculator adjusts to show it's like 1.3 standard drinks.
What about a margarita? The calculator concludes it's the equivalent of 1.7 standard drinks, if made with 1.5 ounces of tequila, an ounce of orange liqueur and half an ounce of lime juice.
A mojito? 1.3 standard drinks. A martini, extra dry? 1.4 standard drinks.
Other favourites? Type them in: http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/ToolsResources/CocktailCalculator.asp .
Beyond beverage choice, Koob, who specializes in the neurobiology of alcohol, has some tips:
Heat increases thirst but alcohol is a diuretic, Koob notes. So in addition to the usual advice to pace yourself — no more than one standard drink an hour — Koob says to stay hydrated by alternating some water or club soda with the alcohol.
Women's bodies react differently to alcohol, and not just because they tend to weigh less than men. They don't metabolize alcohol as quickly, and their bodies contain less water. On average, it takes one less drink for a woman to become intoxicated than a man of the same weight, Koob said. The NIAAA's definition of low-risk drinking for women is no more than seven drinks a week and no more than three drinks on any single day, while for men the limit is no more than 14 drinks a week and no more than four drinks on any single day.
BEYOND DRINKING AND DRIVING
The July Fourth holiday weekend historically is dangerous on the highways: 38 per cent of fatalities involved alcohol-impaired driving in 2011, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
But alcohol also doesn't mix with boating, or swimming and diving, Koob warns. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alcohol use is involved in up to 70 per cent of adult and adolescent deaths associated with water recreation.
HOLDING YOUR ALCOHOL
What determines why one drink is plenty for one person while another routinely downs two or three? Genes play a big role. So do environmental factors, such as getting used to drinking a certain amount. That tolerance is a balancing act, Koob says. He cites research showing the person who can drink others under the table is at higher risk for alcohol problems later in life than is someone more sensitive to its effects.
WHEN ALCOHOL IS A PROBLEM
Alcohol use disorders affect an estimated 17 million Americans. There are two medications that can help, targeting different steps in the addiction cycle, Koob said. More medications that work in different ways are needed, but changing lifestyle, cognitive therapy and support groups all play a role, he said.
Medications "are never going to cure the disease," Koob said. "What they will do is help you on the way."
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Ebola case stokes concerns for Liberians in Texas
Ebola case stokes concerns for Liberians in Texas
Man not criminally responsible in woman's death
CDC Confirms First Patient Diagnosed With Ebola in United States
Gene Study Finds No Proof Vitamin D Guards Against Type 2 Diabetes
Health ministers reassure Canadians about Ebola
Hospital cancels 20 surgeries due to bugs
DART ill-suited for West Africa: Harper
Head Injuries May Raise Chances of Risky Behavior by Teens
Spacing Between Sibling Births Tied to Autism Risk in Study
Acupuncture May Not Help Chronic Knee Pain, Study Finds
Make dementia a priority, ministers urged
Groups Call for Medicare Coverage of Lung Cancer Screening
Obesity Tied to Higher Cancer Risk for Colon Cancer Survivors
'Be A Donor' website glitch fixed: minister
Recessions May Thwart a Woman's Motherhood Plans Forever: Study
Herceptin Best for Certain Breast Cancer Patients, Study Says
Fish Oil Supplements Have Little Effect on Irregular Heartbeat: Study
Can Exercise Prevent Type 2 Diabetes? Your Genes May Be Key
When It Comes to Sex Partners, Men Prefer Younger Women: Study
Health Highlights: Sept. 30, 2014
Health Tip: Curbing Nighttime Nursing
Health Tip: Get Physical Activity
Tension over Nova Scotia health law builds
Nurses asking Ont. for medical tourism info
Ministers want federal action on flavoured tobacco
Medical Implant Devices Skate Through Review Process, Studies Claim
Antibiotic Use Before Age 2 Might Raise Obesity Risk, Study Says
Too Many Heart Scans May Pose Radiation Risks, Cardiologists Say
Doctors' Group Issues Painkiller Guidelines
Protect public health care, coalition urges
40 States, District of Columbia Reporting Respiratory Virus That Targets Kids
Drug Gives Big Survival Boost Against Type of Advanced Breast Cancer
Obese in Adolescence, Colon Cancer in Later Life?
Rat Study Suggests Light at Night Might Hamper Breast Cancer Therapy
Nova Scotia faces health care fight
American Doctor Exposed to Ebola Admitted to NIH Hospital
Emotional Life Lingers for Alzheimer's Patients, Even as Memory Fades
ADHD Can Hamper School Performance as Early as 2nd Grade, Study Says
Pediatricians Endorse IUDs, Implants for Teen Birth Control