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Limits on Alcohol Consumption

answered 11:12 AM EST, Tue November 29, 2011
I have a question about recommended drinking allowances. As far as I understand it, moderate and safe drinking for men is no more than 2 drinks per day. But is this the case for men of all sizes? I am 6 foot 8 and about 300 pounds and there is a little bit of fat on me but I’m not in bad shape and I am almost as muscular as I was during my college football days a decade ago.

If I go out for a beer with a much smaller male friend of mine, I can have 2 beers easily to each one he has and still stay sober enough to drive home. I don’t know this for a fact, but I bet I could have 6 or 7 beers and still not exceed the legal limit whereas my smaller friend would be well over and pretty intoxicated by that point.

But as for safe drinking for my longer term health, do my liver and kidneys and other organs care that I not getting drunk? I mean, is the blood alcohol concentration that I hit on a daily basis what is most relevant when determining how much harm alcohol is doing to me over a lifetime, or is just the total amount of alcohol I consume? If it is the latter, I should drink no more than my smaller friend, even though I only get half the effects he does from that same amount.

Melissa Borlie Says...

Melissa Borlie M. Borlie
MHR, LPC

This is a very good question and I'm glad you asked it. The recommended limits are for the "average" person. "Average" doesn't include people with chronic diseases, pregnant women, or low body weight, etc. With your physical size and being in good shape, you would probably not be included in "average". Which means it really does take more alcohol for you to be impaired than a smaller person. However, the only way to know for certain is to obtain a breathalyzer and test yourself. This is one situation I would not "bet" on.

Your internal organs don't care whether you get drunk; they react to the exposure to alcohol over the long-term. You could assume that because you are of above average size, so are your kidneys and liver. Then, you could assume that your kidneys and liver can filter more alcohol than the average person's. From the scientific standpoint, alcohol is broken down into components that are poisonous to the human body. My assumption is always: There is only so much any filter can filter. At what point does your body cross that line? I'm not sure anyone can give you that specific information without extensive testing. It's a gamble you have to be willing to take.

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Page last updated Nov 30, 2011

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