The science around alcohol consumption is complicated. Recently, the New York Times published an article with the flashy headline “Even a Little Alcohol Can Harm Your Health.” Is that true?

“Even a little alcohol can harm your health.”
New York Times

Mostly false or misleading. Significant errors or omissions. Mostly make believe.

After that attention-grabbing claim, the New York Times’ article says small amounts of alcohol in moderation are completely fine for most people. That’s true!

Most Americans drink alcohol occasionally, and the most recent U.S. Dietary Guidelines (mentioned as baselines in the article) do recognize that reality, recommending adults of legal drinking age forgo drinking or drink in moderation by limiting intake to two drinks or less a day for men or one drink or less a day for women. That recommendation was based on the sixty studies that met the Dietary Guidelines standards for inclusion

The impact of alcohol consumption on one’s health depends on your personal medical history, body makeup, and genetic disposition. For a healthy adult, having multiple drinks at an event, or the occasional glass of wine with dinner, is not a serious public health concern. 

Broadly discouraging habits that have a negligible impact on a person’s health is not helping people take other health critiques or recommendations seriously. Suggesting that imbibing even small amounts of alcohol is dangerous is the type of thing that takes the joy out of enjoyable activities—which is also good for one’s health.