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How bad is drinking a bottle of wine?

DEAR DR. ROACH: I know drinking a bottle of wine isn’t good for me, but is it really that bad? I’m a 74-year-old female in excellent health who stays active and enjoys relaxing with wine — before, during and after dinner. I seriously want to know if I’m really harming myself with this habit. — N.R.

ANSWER: A bottle of wine is indeed more than is recommended daily. For women, the recommendation is one glass of wine with meals. A bottle of wine contains five glasses. This amount of alcohol is thought to increase overall risk of death by about 30 percent, mostly from accidents, kidney and liver disease and congestive heart failure. There is fairly strong evidence that this much alcohol also increases risk of developing dementia. Alcohol may have a greater effect on older women, because at age 74, your liver probably does not work as well as it did when you were 20.

Put another way, your current risk of death due to the alcohol is closer to that of an 80-year-old than that of a 74-year-old, roughly speaking. Cutting down on alcohol now stops further damage and allows your body to heal itself, to some extent.

I hope I have convinced you that from your health standpoint, five glasses of wine is far too much, and I would really encourage you to stay below two glasses of wine a day. 

DEAR DR. ROACH: You have mentioned diseases of the blood marrow in the column before, but what does the bone marrow actually do? — T.S.B.

ANSWER: The main job of the bone marrow is to produce the different blood cells: red blood cells to carry oxygen; white blood cells to fight infection and cancers; and platelets to stop bleeding. Diseases of the bone marrow can cause problems by making something abnormal (such as leukemia cells), but also by failing at its job and not making what it is supposed to. Low red cell counts lead to anemia; low white cell counts increase risk of infection; and low platelet counts contribute to abnormal bleeding.

Bone marrow diseases sometimes can be treated directly, but often treatment involves replacing blood products, and possibly using growth factors to make the bone marrow work better.

DEAR DR. ROACH: My 22-year-old daughter was diagnosed with overactive bladder. She tried medications, but they made her sick. She was given a prescription for a physical therapist to work with her for her condition. Unfortunately, she has hit dead ends. How can she find a physical therapist to work with her? — A.F.

ANSWER: Physical therapists, like most other health care professionals, have individual skill sets. Pelvic-floor physical therapy requires a level of expertise that not all physical therapists have. I suspect she may have just been calling physical therapist offices near her and not finding a therapist with that expertise. A quick internet search found a good number of specially trained therapists in the area where she lives.

There are many online reviews of physical therapists, just as there are reviews of doctors and dentists. They have some value, but I would be cautious about both overenthusiastic and overly negative reviews.

Dr. Roach regrets he is unable to answer individual questions, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to

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