Vice vice baby

A little bit of sinning is just fine. But how much is too much? Let the experts tell you.

Anumeha Chaturvedi        Print Edition: April 20, 2008

We all know that too much of smoking, alcohol and caffeine is bad for health and could spell disaster in the long run. So, why in the world do we give in? Well, no we aren’t trying to preach but simply tell you just how much is too much and when you should start getting worried.

Kick that butt

Smoking is lethal
Smoking is lethal
Smoking is lethal and, more often than not, could prove life threatening. “Certain areas of your brain have addictive nicotine receptors that appear as and when you smoke. Clearly, there’s not a single ingredient in the stick that makes it fit for human consumption,” says Dr Vikram Sarbhai, MD, DNB, Senior Consultant in respiratory medicine, critical care and sleep medicine, at Max Super Specialty Hospital, Delhi. But a few cigs now and then, can’t hurt right? You couldn’t be more wrong. The American Cancer Society says that smoking between one and four cigarettes a day can have serious effects on your health. “You can probably get away with a cigarette every few months, but why take the chance?” says Dr Vikram. Even secondhand smoke could prove to be lethal over time, so just put the pack down and seek help if already addicted. You’re better off without it. Trust us.


So you like to enjoy life, sit back and relax with a drink? Nothing wrong in it really. A few mugs of beer once in a while is not too dangerous but a regular drinking habit could lead to trouble. So, just how much can you take before your liver starts begging you to stop? “Addictions like alcohol are called negative stress coping mechanisms. They come with changing lifestyles and are part of a person’s behavioural pattern. But one can safely get away by drinking three-to-four pegs a week,” says Dr Rachna Khanna Singh, BHMS, PPHC, RCH (UK), Holistic Consultant and Lifestyle Expert at Artemis Hospital. The general consensus is that moderate drinking is probably a safe and acceptable vice. Not a definitive answer, but, nevertheless, a comforting thought we hope.

A lot can happen over coffee

Watch your caffeine intake
Watch your caffeine intake
Most of us can’t do without our daily dose of coffee. And it’s not just coffee. Be it sweets, snacks or soft drinks, most things these days come laced with caffeine.

Your doctor’s probably at you already, telling you to watch your caffeine intake. Why? An overdose of caffeine can trigger restlessness, nervousness and insomnia, besides, gastrointestinal disturbances, muscle twitching, irritability and irregular or rapid heart beats. Phew! Need we say more? “Just like alcohol—tea and coffee are substances to be taken in moderate quantities. Two cups of tea per day or a cup of coffee is certainly permissible,” says Dr Singh.

Sleep deprivation

Sleep well
Sleep well
This is something that’s really not in your hands. Or so you’d like to think. Deadlines and last-minute presentations can surely turn one into a nocturnal creature and make you feel that there’s little you can do to combat it. “Sleep deprivation is a chronic fatigue syndrome with both physical and mental repercussions like headaches, gastric upsets, confusion and irritability,” says Dr Singh. An acceptable vice provided you get five-to-six hours of sleep, and promise to catch up on it over the weekend. Sleep like a log if you can for a good 12 hours at a stretch.

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