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Alcohol is a drug and an intoxicant. It is also a source of energy. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram, which is more than protein and carbohydrate but less than fat.

High levels of intake of alcohol will cause:

  • short term effects of intoxication
  • risk of accident
  • increased risk of some cancers
  • liver and pancreas damage
  • weigh gain
  • nutritional deficiency
  • heart damage

Moderate drinking of alcohols appears to be beneficial by reducing cause death by heart disease and cancer.

Alcohol Units - A Guide

Alcohol Unit Wine
1 Unit - 1 * 125ml glass (8% alcohol by volume wine)

- 300 ml (1/2 pint) standard beer or larger or stout (3-4% alcohol by volume)

- 300ml (1/2 pint) standard medium cider

- 1 single measure (25 ml) any spirit

- 1 single measure (25 ml) port or sherry (20% alcohol by volume)

1.5 Unit - 1 * 125 ml glass (12% alcohol by volume wine)

- 1 * 125 ml glass (champagne)

2 Units - 300 ml (1/2 pint) special strong lager (7% alcohol by volume)

- 600 ml (1 pint) ordinary beer or lager or stout (3-4%)

- typical home-pouted measure of spirit (50 ml)

The number of units of alcohol in a drink can be determined by multiplying the volume of the drink (in millilitres) by its percentage Alcohol By Volume (ABV), and dividing by 1000.

Thus a pint (568ml) of beer at 4% ABV contains

(5680 * 4) / 1000 = 2.3 units

Regular but little consumption of alcohol would not pose significant health risks. It is recommended by UK government that safe limits for alcohol is between 3 and 4 units a day for men and between 2 and 3 units a day for women. Consistently drinking 4 or more units a day for men or 3 or more units a day for is not advisable. The difference between genders is because women generally have a smaller liver to process alcohol and lesser alcohol-processing enzyme, Alcohol Dehydrogenase (ADH), in their stomach. It is also due to the lower weight and water-to-body-mass-ratio of women.