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Faye Flam

Do You Really Have to Follow Those New Alcohol Guidelines?

2020 is horrible enough already.

Rosé all day? Maybe not. 

Rosé all day? Maybe not. 

Photographer: Francois Nascimbeni/AFP/Getty Images

Whether that second glass of wine will really harm your health remains a matter of contention even as the USDA reexamines its guidelines on alcohol. A committee responsible for evaluating those guidelines has just recommended that men consume no more than one drink on any given day; women were already limited to one.

It’s hard to be objective and stick to the data on a topic as loaded with moral and cultural weight as alcohol, and the USDA has yet to decide whether to adopt the committee’s recommendation. Some studies show moderate drinkers are a little more prone to certain cancers, but the data might be skewed by other bad habits that go along with drinking, such as smoking or just hanging around smoky bars. Other studies show moderate drinkers have better cardiovascular health, but those might be confounded by other good habits that go along with drinking, such as eating healthy meals in the company of friends and family.