Q. How much alcohol can I drink “safely” so there is no negative impact to my brain?

A. Like tobacco, alcohol is one of the few substances consistently linked to an increased risk of cancer. The type of alcohol—wine, beer, or liquor—does not matter. According to several sources, drinking alcohol increases the risk of developing some types of cancer. Alcohol is a toxin, a poison, to the brain. Since I have only one brain and there are no replacements—and I would like mine to be sharp and healthy at the age of 122 years 165 days—I take an admittedly conservative approach, which is that there is no amount of alcohol that I would consider safe for my brain.

Yes, I know, there are those who say alcohol, especially wine, is good for your heart due to the resveratrol wine contains. I get my resveratrol from eating blueberries and grapes—dark purple and red ones with the skins still on them. So far there doesn’t seem to be any link to cancer from them.

Here are a couple of resources, including a monograph source you might review and then make up your own mind about how much risk you are willing to take with your brain.


IARC Working Group on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. Alcohol consumption and ethyl carbamate. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks in Humans 2010;96:3-1383. [http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol96/index.php]