There is archaeological evidence that alcoholic beverages were being produced as early as 7000–6650 BC. The Hindu ayurvedic texts (estimated to be 2500 years old) describe both the beneficial effects of alcoholic beverages and the consequences of intoxication and alcoholic diseases. Ayurvedic texts concluded that alcohol was a medicine if consumed in moderation, but a poison if consumed in excess.
So there you go.
Modern research has the same conclusion: a small amount of alcohol appears beneficial for your cardio-vascular system, but heavy or binge drinking is extremely bad for your health (and your relationships, your intellect, your bank account, etc).
How much is OK? This is a difficult question to answer definitively – but for women, the limit should probably be one drink per day – and probably limited to 5 drinks per week. (One drink being defined as 14 grams of pure alcohol.) Alcohol is very seductive – the same effect that makes you feel relaxed and softens your edges will also lower your inhibitions – making you prone to drinking too much (and other imprudent behaviors). Alcohol is a drug – and appropriate dosing is vital to safe drug use.
So – my advice is: make your drink special – it should taste fabulous; present it in a pretty glass with some garnish; and sip slowly. Savor your drink! And if you find that you cannot stop after one or two, then sadly, you may need to forego alcohol.
Salud! (“To your health” – a common Spanish toast)