Doctor's Note

Previously, I’ve addressed alcohol’s pros and cons in Alcohol Risks vs. Benefits. The other mouthwash video I referred to is Don’t Use Antiseptic Mouthwash, which is part of my video series on improving athletic performance with nitrate-containing vegetables (if interested, start with Doping with Beet Juice).

Also, be sure to check out Breast Cancer Risk: Red Wine vs. White Wine

How else might one reduce breast cancer risk? See, for example:

And, of course, check out my many other videos on breast cancer.

Finally, be sure to see my associated blog posts for further context: Breast Cancer & Alcohol: How Much Is Safe? and Breast Cancer & Wine.

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  • Gary Giovino

    Nice way to wrap it up Michael

  • Lynn

    Thanks for sharing what others refuse to share.

  • Mark Brend

    I wonder what the risk is if your use mouthwash like I do.
    Rinse with mouthwash, spit, light rinse with water, toothpaste, rinse and re-rinse until my mouth does not have any visible paste left. :{} ?

  • Fredrika Nordh

    What about alcohol based deodorants?

  • lyra

    What about social drinking? My heritage is French, Italian, and Spanish. Needless to say, we are wine drinkers. And for generations, the women in my family have lived well into their 80’s and 90’s. Most of us drink moderately, and not hard liquor either, but almost exclusively red wine. However, when we get together for family gatherings, we have been known to polish off a couple of bottles of wine. Does this social bonding help protect us against our ‘bad habit’.

    According to Dr. Dean Ornish, people with strong bonds — friends and family ties — enjoy a bolstered immunity which may protect them from coming down with maladies like cancer and heart disease, which affect the rest of the population eating the same diet (usually meat-based). Now, I am a vegan and I have a healthy life style overall, but I do enjoy an occasional glass of wine. And I don’t have any of the risk factors that are associated with developing cancer. What is wrong with women enjoying an occassional glass of wine?

    I have to say, I often wonder if some of these studies targeted at women aren’t motivated by a puritanical bias on the part of the researchers. I suppose we’ll hear next that men may still drink moderately, but if you’re a women, you’d better not take so much as a sip. Look, I know that many of these studies are not fool-proof. Researchers may be affected by unconscious biases towards certain groups (e.g. women drinkers). And the results may be skewed. So I have some questions. Did they take a healthy vegan lifestyle into consideration, or were they looking mainly at meat eaters? This is still a puritanical society when it comes to what women can or can’t do. Well, perhaps I’m just rationalizing. I do like my wine. All the same, I’d like to see more studies before I accept these results. I don’t see anything wrong with an occasional glass of wine enjoyed among friends.

    • Plantstrongdoc

      A lot of problems, which affect both genders, are associated with alcohol consumption – of course some of them dose dependent: Violence (probably mostly men), car accidents, hypertension, stroke, colorectalcancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, atrial fibrillation, heart failure etc. The true safe upper limit for both genders is probably low. That said, I drink wine every week, and I have no intention of stopping that. And you make a good point, you eat healthy, it is a part of social life, social bonding, eating well, it makes you relax, it tastes great – and hey its plant based! :-)

    • For perspective, breast cancer accounts for only 3.3 out of 100 deaths among American women. Cardiovascular diseases accounted for 10 fold the number of deaths. (

      I think these two papers are worth perusing:

      Sun, Qi, et al. “Alcohol consumption at midlife and successful ageing in women: a prospective cohort analysis in the nurses’ health study.” PLoS medicine 8.9 (2011): e1001090.

      Women who drank moderately (and even daily) had a better chance of living to 70 without a medical history of serious diseases (cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke, Parkinson’s, MS, etc.), loss of cognitive function, disability, or mental illness. This measure aggregates a whole range of potential health setbacks.

      And on the other side:

      Britton, A., M. G. Marmot, and M. Shipley. “Who benefits most from the cardioprotective properties of alcohol consumption—health freaks or couch potatoes?.” J EPIDEMIOL COMMUN H 62.10 (2008): 905-908.

      Physically active non-smoking women with healthy diets didn’t get the heart/stroke risk benefit from alcohol seen in the general population.

  • I have started to have some tooth problems and I started to swish with salt water instead of the alcohol based mouthwash. I find the salt water is far more soothing than the alcohol based mouthwash, which is very irritating. Is salt water the best thing to swish one’s mouth with? I do use sea salt and of course don’t drink the salt water.

    • Tania

      The best thing to swish is organic coconut oil

      • Thanks, and what I found on the Web about “oil pulling” which I think you are referring to is very interesting.

  • Toni

    Hello, what about kefir? when you leave it several days it generates a little of alcohol , may be less than 1% but it’s alcohol

  • Marge

    I heard Dr. Oz recommend a glass of beer per day as being beneficial.
    I think that was irresponsible. Some don’t want to stop at one glass. And with the information in this video, it would be best to avoid all alcohol and go plant-based.

  • Rahn Kim

    How about grape juice?

  • Melissa Hoffman

    I wonder if this casts a totally different light on the use of alcohol based herbal tinctures. What do you think?

  • Avi

    How bad it is if I am using Listerine day and night, every day?
    And is it possible that it effects the liver?

  • Margaret

    The teetotalers in the studies showing the J shaped curve may have been people who had a history of alcohol dependence. They also may have been abstaining because of other health problems such as liver disease. They need to re-do those studies, excluding those with a history of alcohol related diseases, and controlling adequately for other health-related behaviors.

  • Justin Bosley

    So what about alcohol in herbal tinctures?

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Tinctures usually come with a very low dose and I would doubt it contributes to a dangerous amount.

      • SoniTheEchidna

        I would respectfully disagree with this. I used to work for a company (in Australia) that manufactured herbal tinctures (amongst many other herbal products) and some of the tinctures were up to 95% EtOH with MOST of them being between 40-70% EtOH! So, it would depend upon the company manufacturing the tincture.

        My point being that if you are using a tincture that is 95% EtOH, even a low dose is going to be a significant amount of EtOH when it is almost pure EtOH! Therefore, it would be important to read the label to see what %EtOH was being used.

        • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

          Always welcome to disagree very true about % of ethanol and of course how much one is taking.

  • Roger C

    I have a few concerns with this video, primarily regarding the link between breast cancer risk and alcohol consumption. The meta-analysis used by Dr. Greger has important limitations and qualifications that should be noted, and which place the information, and any subsequent advice and decision-making, into proper perspective. First, the researchers used articles that only demonstrated an association between alcohol consumption and breast cancer (and other cancers as well, but I’ll limit my comments to BC). The analysis in no way controlled for extraneous variables that could also account for the increase in breast cancer risk. For example, the researchers did not control for smoking status in the analysis. Given that people who drink are more likely to smoke, we are left wondering if the main effect is due to alcohol or cigarettes. The authors note this limitation in their paper, and interestingly they cite research on people who have never smoked, but drank alcohol, and the risk ratio in that group is below 1.0 (it was .95, which if anything would indicate less risk relative to abstainers). The analyses did in no way control for any third variables that could (a) correlate with drinking and (b) explain variance in cancer risk independent of drinking.

    This particular criticism is especially important given that that RR (risk ratio) was 1.05. This is a very small effect – in fact, the confidence interval was 1.02 – 1.08, which most researchers would consider quite small. Given that an RR of 1.0 is no effect at all, it was surprising to see the authors refer to this as a “moderate” effect. If this is moderate, what would be small? In any case, given that important third variables such as smoking, diet and other relevant lifestyle factors were not controlled, it is reasonable to have serious doubts that the RR would have remained at 1.05 if these variables were controlled.

    I do not want to be overly critical of Dr. Greger, but these are important limitations of this research that should be mentioned and weighed to some extent. Watching this video, the conclusion seems to be that drinking any amount of alcohol leaves you – the individual viewer – concluding that you are immediately vulnerable to cancer after taking one drink. Both the limitations of this study, in conjunction with problems applying epidemiological study results to individual risk analysis (a separate issue beyond this comment space) make me uneasy with such conclusions and advice implied.

    My two cents.

  • JoeCaucci

    I recently found Dr. Gregor and this website after eating a strict plant only diet for over three years (and I stay away from unhealthy vegan foods, as well)! My question involves alcoholism.
    I am a recovering alcoholic (or at very least a binge drinker). I have never been a liquor person, but I would consume light beer as if they were going to stop making it, and did so for a long time. To quantify, I am talking about at least 8-10 light beers over the course of an evening into the night time and leading right up to bed, and then around 5 or whenever I got home from work the next day, begin the whole process over again.
    My question is: now that I have considerably cleaned up my life, and have stopped drinking entirely, is there anything I should be doing for myself to repair any damage that I have probably caused to my body? Are there any supplements you recommend? Are there any outright signs that I do have damage from alcohol that needs more attention than just pouring fresh juice and whole foods into myself can do alone?
    I really appreciate all of your great videos, and the time that all of you take to spread the not-so-common sense word of living long and prospering with a whole foods plant only diet.


    • Thea

      Joe: That’s so awesome that you have got yourself on a healthy path, both getting rid of the alcohol and working on eating healthy. Dr. Greger may have some videos on helping people who have consumed a lot of alcohol, but nothing is coming to mind to me right now. However, I bet Dr. Greger has some videos on conditions ex-alcoholics are likely to deal with. I really don’t know anything about this area, but as a guess, isn’t liver problems a potential issue? If so, I believe that this site has some videos about liver health. Etc. So, my advice is to pick specific topics you are concerned about and then to do a search on those in the Search box at the top of the screen and to use the Health Topics page (which can be hit or miss in terms of helpfulness/having anything on a particular topic, but is really worth checking out).
      Finally, I would recommend that you get a hold of a copy of Dr. Greger’s new book How Not To Die. It’s a great summary of the information that is available here on the website, but the book is organized and condensed. Also, the book has a Part 2 section on specific recommendations for daily eating. I think those recommendations would apply to you as much as to anyone else.
      Hope that helps. Good luck.

  • Wannabemd

    I remember learning about acet(aldehydes) in organic chemistry ( khan academy) a few days ago by using an oxidation reagent on primary alcohols. At first I didn’t understand why we have to take organic chemistry but now I’m beginning to understand why.

  • capenpeck

    I’ve read an article that said Niacin with large amounts of Vitamin C is effective is reducing the cravings of alcohol consumption and possibly alleviating the craving to drink at all. Has anyone else heard of this? I’m not sure how reputable the site is: