Medicine

Having just one alcoholic drink per day 'shortens your life', study finds

Having just one alcoholic drink per day 'shortens your life', study finds

For example, life expectancy was 6 months lower among those who drank 100 to 200 grams (7 ounces) per week, and life expectancy was 1 to 2 years lower among those who drank 200 to 300 grams (10.5 ounces) per week, compared with those who drank less than 100 grams a week.

And they warned that people who drink more than 18 drinks a week could lose four to five years of their lives. Any more than that and there's a significant increase in the risk of cardiovascular problems, including stroke, aortic aneurysm, fatal hypertensive disease, and heart failure.

"This study has shown that drinking alcohol at levels which were previously believed to be safe is actually linked with lower life expectancy and several adverse health outcomes", said study co-author Dan Blazer of Duke University in North Carolina.

Lead author Dr Angela Wood said: 'The key message of this research is that if you already drink alcohol, drinking less may help you live longer and lower your risk of several cardiovascular conditions'.

The new report, published Thursday in The Lancet and boasting 120 co-authors, aggregated data from multiple studies of drinking patterns and health outcomes among almost 600,000 people in 19 high-income countries.

The maximum safe limit was nearly 5 drinks per week - that meant 100g of pure alcohol, or 5 pints of 4% ABV beer, or five glasses of 13% ABV wine that measures 175ml each. Germany also has varying suggestions for limits on alcohol consumption: 12 grams of alcohol, about one drink, for women per day and twice as much for men. One hundred grams of alcohol translates into about five to six glasses of wine weekly, which is almost double the United States government's recommended limits on alcohol for men. This amount corresponds to 3.4 litres of beer with 4% or six glasses of wine.

The researchers also looked at the association between alcohol consumption and different types of cardiovascular disease.

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The researchers point out that there is no thresholds below which lower alcohol consumption stopped being associated with disease risk but that the threshold for lowest risk was 100g per week.

Previous studies have suggested that drinking red wine can be good for our hearts, although some scientists have suggested these benefits may be overhyped.

Most Canadians drink alcohol and, as a country, we consume more than 50 per cent above the world average.

It goes on to say "depending on how much you drink, alcohol can be linked to both chronic and acute alcohol-related harms". In countries like Italy, Spain, or the United States, the recommended limit is now nearly double that in the UK (equating to up to two lost years of life).

"The study focused on current drinkers to reduce the risk of bias caused by those who abstain from alcohol due to poor health".

The study's likely to be controversial, said Jason Connor and Wayne Hall of the University of Queensland Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research in Australia.

David Jernigan, an alcohol researcher at Johns Hopkins University, told the Associated Press, "if you're really concerned about your longevity, don't have more than one drink a day".


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