Published: Sat, April 14, 2018
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

Limit Alcohol to Just One Drink a Day, New Study Says

Limit Alcohol to Just One Drink a Day, New Study Says

A global study, published today in The Lancet, shows it was associated with a higher risk of stroke, fatal aneurysm and heart failure.

The study's recommendations are significantly less than what many countries recommend as an alcohol consumption limit.

As statistics expert Professor David Spiegelhalter explained, the study "estimates that, compared to those who only drink a little, people who drink at the current United Kingdom guidelines suffer no overall harm in terms of death rates".

The report was based on a global study that included data from almost 600,000 current drinkers included in 83 studies carried out in 19 countries. But in the US, 100 grams is equivalent to what's in seven 12-ounces cans of beer, 5-ounce glasses of wine, or 1.5-ounce shots of rum, gin or other distilled spirits.

Drinking more than 100 grams of alcohol per week was linked with a lower life expectancy.

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Drinking 10 glasses of wine a week can cut life expectancy by two years, a major study says.

Those having ten or more drinks, roughly two bottles of wine, had their life expectancy slashed by up to two years, while those drinking 18 or more alcoholic beverages a week can expect to live five years less.

But for those who do, the US Department of Agriculture's Dietary Guidelines recommend women limit their consumption to no more than one drink per day (98 grams per week) and men to two daily drinks (196 grams per week).

Five standard 175ml glasses of wine or five pints a week is the upper safe limit - about 100g of alcohol, or 12.5 units in total.

"Higher alcohol consumption is associated with lower risk of heart attack, but higher risk of stroke, heart failure and other heart events".

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The booziness of drinks is measured by standard alcohol units - in other words the amount of the drink that has 10 grams of pure alcohol in it.

It's official, everyone: We're drinking too much booze and it's cutting us short of precious life. They noted that while alcohol may lower the risk of non-fatal heart attacks, it found that "on balance" there were no health benefits from drinking. About 50% of the participants admitted to drinking more than 100 grams per week. The researchers collected 83 individual studies from 1964 up to 2010, including one from Erasmus MC.

"What this is saying is, if you're really concerned about your longevity, don't have more than a drink a day", said David Jernigan, a Johns Hopkins University alcohol researcher who was not involved in the study.

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.

The authors suggest that the varying risk of different forms of cardiovascular disease could be down to the impact alcohol has on blood pressure and other facts linked to levels of HDL - or "good" - cholesterol.

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"This powerful study may make sobering reading for countries that have set their recommendations at higher levels than the United Kingdom, but this does seem to broadly reinforce government guidelines for the United Kingdom", said Victoria Taylor, the Senior dietician at the British Heart Foundation. They also noted that the study was not able to account for people who reduced their alcohol consumption due to health complications. Estimates show that a person who drinks around 7 to 14 cans of beer per week with each can being around 1.4 standard drink, the risk of death rises by 5 percent compared to those who drank lesser.

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