Alcohol, or ethyl alcohol (ethanol), refers to the intoxicating ingredient found in wine, beer and hard liquor. Alcohol arises naturally from carbohydrates when certain micro-organisms metabolize them in the absence of oxygen, called fermentation.
Beer, wine and other liquor contain different amounts of alcohol. The amount of alcohol in distilled liquor is known as proof. Proof refers to the amount of alcohol in the liquor; for example, 100 proof liquor contains 50% alcohol, 40 proof liquor contains 20% alcohol, and so on. Traditional wine has approximately 8-14% alcohol, while regular beer has 4-6% alcohol.
Recent studies show that moderate use of alcohol may have a beneficial effect on the coronary system. In general, for healthy people, one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men would be considered the maximum amount of alcohol consumption to be considered moderate use. (By healthy people, we are referring to non-pregnant women, individuals not addicted to alcohol, and people without pre-existing medical conditions, among others). However, the amount of alcohol that a person can drink safely is highly individual, depending on genetics, age, sex, weight and family history, etc. A drink is considered to be:
4-5 ounces of wine
10 ounces of wine cooler
12 ounces of beer
1-1/4 ounces of distilled liquor (80 proof whiskey, vodka, scotch, or rum)