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Alcohol & Health
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Updated on August 21, 2023
5 min read

Is Beer Bad For You & What are its Risks?

Beer is an alcoholic drink made by brewing and fermenting cereal grains like malted barley, which are then flavored with hops. For years, it has been a popular alcoholic beverage among people worldwide.

People have extensively argued whether beer is good or bad for health. Let’s look at the downside and upsides of drinking beer in this article.

4 Health Risks of Drinking Beer

Like other alcoholic beverages, drinking beer excessively can have harmful effects. Alcohol is associated with various health concerns, including liver disease, depression, and addiction.1

According to the NIAAA, this is what falls under excessive drinking:

Binge drinking0.08%5 or more drinks in two hours4 or more drinks in two hours
Heavy drinking0.08%14 drinks in a week7 drinks in a week

Here are four health risks of drinking beer:

1. Liver disease

Research has directly linked alcohol consumption to liver disease mortality.3 Consuming alcoholic drinks, such as beer, can predispose one to liver diseases such as cirrhosis.

The severity of alcohol-induced liver disease typically depends on factors like the pattern, amount, and duration of alcohol consumption and other factors like nutrition and genetics. 

2. Cancer risk

If you drink beer excessively, you have a higher risk of developing certain types of cancer.

Alcohol can cause an increase in estrogen and other hormones linked to breast cancer.2 The empty calories can also cause weight gain, increasing the risk of obesity and 13 kinds of cancer.10

3. Mental health

Depression is a mental health disorder. In 2020, it affected an estimated 21 million adults in the US.11

Studies have suggested that heavy beer drinkers or binge drinkers have an increased risk of depression than non-drinkers and moderate drinkers.4 It can also predispose them to anxiety.

4. Weight gain

Research has shown that heavy drinking or binge drinking can cause weight gain and an increased risk of obesity.9 

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), other downsides of excessive beer consumption include:

  • Increased risk of chronic diseases like heart diseases, high blood pressure, and digestive problems
  • Alcohol use disorders or alcohol dependence
  • Social problems (e.g. family problems)
  • Reduced productivity
  • Weakened immune system
  • Learning and memory problems

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7 Surprising Health Benefits of Beer

Scientists and physicians advise against excessive alcohol consumption due to its health risks. However, moderate consumption can provide surprising health benefits.7,8

The benefits of moderate beer consumption include:

  1. A possible reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
  2. A possible increase of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol)
  3. Reduced LDL cholesterol level (a risk factor for high blood pressure)
  4. A possible reduced risk of a heart attack
  5. Cell protection from free radicals due to the natural compounds from beer constituents
  6. Reduced risk of osteoporosis due to supported bone density
  7. Reduced risk of dementia

Despite these health benefits, remember that most alcohol-related studies show correlation and not causation. In other words, it isn’t definite that alcohol is essential to achieve the abovementioned benefits.

However, some strong evidence, such as an increase in HDL, points towards its benefit to heart health. The key is to focus on moderation, as excessive intake will harm your health.12

How Much Beer is Too Much?

Health experts advise that people drink beer in moderation, which means:

  • Less than two drinks a day for women
  • Less than three drinks a day for men

You are drinking too much beer if you have more than this number of drinks in a day.

What is a ‘Beer Belly’?

Liquid calories are easy to overconsume because it takes a while to feel full. The calories can add up quickly when drinking beer, leading to a beer belly and, generally, weight gain.

If you want to avoid a beer belly, consider choosing a light beer with around 64 to 110 calories. Remember that alcohol makes you hungry and lowers your inhibitions, so you may eat more than you planned when drinking.


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Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

People who consume beer and other alcoholic beverages excessively may have a drinking problem. They could show symptoms of alcohol use disorder (AUD) and might need healthcare.

Symptoms of AUD include:

  • Inability to reduce or stop alcohol consumption even after attempting to do so
  • Drinking more alcohol than intended
  • Uncontrollable craving for alcohol
  • Failure to carry out everyday activities due to alcohol intake
  • Continuing alcohol intake despite its negative effect on health
  • Developing tolerance to alcoholic drinks
  • Developing withdrawal symptoms after stopping use abruptly

Physical symptoms of AUD include:

  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Profuse sweating
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Rapid heartbeat

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Resources for Alcohol Misuse & Addiction

Professional help is available for people suffering from alcohol misuse and addiction. Depending on the addiction case, a person will receive inpatient, outpatient treatment, or both.

Your treatment might involve any of the following options:

  • Inpatient program: Here, you get 24/7 comprehensive, well-structured care with close medical monitoring
  • Outpatient program: The care you receive with this treatment is not as intensive as an inpatient program. However, you still receive the needed therapy and support in a conducive environment
  • Partial hospitalization programs: As the name depicts, treatment is similar to an inpatient program. However, you go back home after your treatment each day
  • Medical-assisted therapy (MAT): This treatment option involves using medications in combination with evidence-based therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Support groups: Joining groups that support your recovery journey is an integral part of treatment as this can help establish a long-term aftercare plan


Beer can be bad for you if consumed in excess. Too much beer can lead to a beer belly and other health issues associated with alcohol use disorder (AUD).

If you’re concerned about your drinking habits, seek professional help immediately. Various treatment options are available to help manage AUD and support your recovery journey.

Updated on August 21, 2023
12 sources cited
Updated on August 21, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. “Alcohol Use and Your Health.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021.
  2. Blackburn K. “Alcohol and Breast Cancer Risk: What to Know.” The University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Centre, 2017.
  3. Bruha et al. “Alcoholic Liver Disease.” World Journal of Hepatology, 2012.
  4. Cheng et al. “Heavy Drinking, Poor Mental Health, and Substance Use Among Asian Americans in the NLAAS: A Gender-Based Comparison.” Asian American Journal of Psychology, 2012.
  5. “Drinking Levels Defined.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
  6. “Excessive Alcohol Use is a Risk to Men’s Health.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020.
  7. “Facts about Alcohol and Heart Health.” Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, 2018.
  8. “Moderate Drinking and How to Keep it that Way.” Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, 2011.
  9. Traversy G, Chaput JP. “Alcohol Consumption and Obesity: An Update.” Curr Obes Rep, 2015.
  10. Obesity and Cancer.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022.
  11. Major Depression.” National Institute of Mental Health, 2022.
  12. HDL: The good, but complex, cholesterol.” Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, 2019.
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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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