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Which Alcoholic Drink Causes the Worst Hangover? Dr. Oz Has the Answer and More

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In the August issue of O the Oprah Magazine, Dr. Oz distills for readers the latest and often confusing news on alcohol drinking safety. In particular, news reports that appear in conflict with each other such as “Drinking a glass of wine daily is good for a woman’s heart” followed by “Drinking wine increases a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer by 15 percent.”

With even the experts not in total agreement over what is really safe and is not safe, its raises the question, "What’s a poor thirsty girl to do?"

Rest easy ladies, Dr. Oz has the answer to your questions with sound practical advice that he and his wife Lisa follow when it comes to drinking alcohol. The following is a summary of Dr. Oz’s do’s and don’ts as he raises a glass to toast your good health:

DO: pour wisely

According to Dr. Oz, it’s all about moderation and the type of alcoholic beverage you pour when it comes to drinking safely. In spite of a warning in at least one study that suggests that women who drink 3 to 6 drinks per week have a 15 percent increased risk of developing breast cancer, it’s important to recognize that this can be influenced by how much and what kind of alcohol constitutes a drink.

The safe standard is to limit your daily drinks to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor. That said, Dr. Oz warns that where some people can slip on their drinking is the size of glass used. Do pour wisely by using only tall narrow glasses over short, wide tumblers that encourage over-pouring your drink.

DON’T: Save up your drink quota for the weekend

Skipping on your daily allowance of alcohol does not mean that you can then make up for it on a weekend of inebriated fun—otherwise known as binge drinking. Yes, that’s right. You don’t have to drink heavily every day or so to qualify as a binge drinker—once a week meets the requirement set by health experts who define binge drinking for women as four or more drinks in a two-hour period.

The health risk of consuming more than the recommended amount of alcohol is that it raises your blood pressure very quickly, thereby putting undue stress on fragile blood vessels in the brain. Dr. Oz reports that one study showed that people who binge on occasion were 85 percent more likely to have a stroke later in life. Consumer Reports on Health also places a warning against binge drinking stating that people who binge drink have higher rates of high blood pressure and are 56% more likely to suffer a stroke than non- or moderate drinkers—even in the absence of coronary artery disease.

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DO: Abstain from drinking during pregnancy

Pay no attention to studies that attempt to determine just how much alcohol taken and when, is safe during a pregnancy—the results of these studies are too varied warns Dr. Oz. When it comes to protecting your unborn baby’s brain and other neural development, abstaining from drinking is the best and most sound advice.

Although you may know someone who drank moderately during pregnancy and gave birth to a perfectly healthy-appearing baby, the effects of alcohol on cognition and IQ may not be evident until later in life.

DON’T: Have a nightcap to induce sleep

Take your one allowed drink at dinnertime, but no later than that, advises Dr. Oz as he points to studies that have shown that waiting until bedtime to have a nightcap to help induce sleep actually results in a less-restful night. Drinking does put you to sleep quickly, but it also interferes with normal rapid eye movement (REM) sleep that your brain needs to prepare for the next day.

DO: Keep it light

Sometimes you are at an event where it seems impossible to stick to that one drink only rule. In situations like this, treat it like calories during an event—go for the lighter stuff. In the case of alcoholic beverages, clear liquors like gin and vodka are lighter and better choices for your body over darker liquors such as bourbon.

Dr. Oz points out that darker drinks like whiskey and brandy have higher concentrations of toxic compounds called “congeners” from the fermentation process that can adversely affect your health. Congeners are sought after by distilleries to provide specific tastes and flavors that make each beverage unique. Dr. Oz relates one study from the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research that found that bourbon (with 37 times more congeners than vodka) causes significantly worse headaches than the same amount of alcohol from clear liquors such as vodka.

For more health info related to drinking alcohol, click on the titled link “Hangover Remedy from a Vegetable? Some Scientists Say ‘Yes’" to discover ways to recover from a night of too much imbibing.

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Reference: “A Toast to Your Health: August 2013 issue of O the Oprah Magazine.