One of the top stories on MNN recently has been about how abstaining from alcohol can shorten your life. One study found that those who engage consistent, moderate drinking live longer than those who abstain from alcohol completely. The article was published last August, but it makes its way into MNN"s Today’s Most Popular box (on the right of this page) again and again.


Why? My guess would be that people want this to be true. They want to be given permission to have a couple of drinks as often as they please. I’m one of them. I enjoy wine, beer and cocktails. When the science tells me I should be imbibing, of course I’m going to pay some attention to it.


But what exactly do consistent and moderate mean? They’re pretty vague terms, aren’t they? Does consistent mean daily? Every other day? Regularly on weekends? Does moderate mean only one drink per day or two?


And, let’s face it. When it comes to alcohol, one size does not fit all. Alcoholics are 100 percent better off not drinking any alcohol. Tolerance levels are different for men and women and often depend on a person’s size and weight. (Not necessarily, though. I have some very thin friends who seem to have a much higher tolerance than I do.)


How does the average person know when he’s crossed over from healthy drinking to over-imbibing?


The U.K. has come up with what seems to be an arbitrary way to make sure moderation is applied. Britain's Parliament is urging drinkers to shun booze two days a week. On other days of the week, “men should not regularly drink more than three to four units a day and women no more than two to three units a day.”


Mail Online says the recommendation to abstain for two days a week were based on the Royal College of Physicians warning that there is an increased chance of “the risk of liver disease, alcohol dependence and serous illness” in people who drink every day.


Will not drinking two days a week decrease those chances? I don’t know. I’m not sure anyone really knows. Guidelines like the ones being suggested by Parliament seem like attempts to say something to get the public to be mindful and thoughtful when drinking, even if that something doesn’t apply to everyone.


I’m just kind of talking out loud here. I don’t have any answers. I know myself and have given this some thought, so I have my own guidelines for consuming alcohol (based on trial and some rather embarrassing error that’s better left unpublished) that I try to stick to. There’s little point in sharing my guidelines, though, because who knows if they’re right for anyone else?


Do you have your own guidelines when it comes to alcohol based on your own experiences? 


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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Does one alcohol consumption guideline fit all?
There's a lot of expert information out there about how much alcohol is good (or not good) for you. How do you determine your personal intake?