Medicine

Over-drinking could take five years off your life, says study

Over-drinking could take five years off your life, says study

"This study makes clear that on balance there are no health benefits from drinking alcohol, which is usually the case when things sound too good to be true", Chico said.

Having 18 drinks or more per week was linked with four to five years shorter life expectancy.

The "safe" limit of drinking before the risk of death increased is around 12.5 alcohol units per week - the equivalent of around five pints of beer.

(The U.S. classifies "moderate intake" as one daily drink for women and two for men; the limit in Italy and Spain, meanwhile, is nearly 50 percent higher, and England advises both sexes not to exceed five drinks per week.) And this discrepancy in advice is exactly what researchers wanted to fix, eventually settling on their 100-gram weekly total.

The study urged countries to change their recommendations to no more than 100 grams of alcohol per week, or roughly seven drinks in the U.S. More than that starts to whittle your life by months and years, the researchers found.

The researchers found a higher risk of stroke, heart failure and other problems in that group of heavier drinkers.

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Another Danish study found drinking three to four times a week was linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. This slightly lower risk of heart attack tied to alcohol consumption must be balanced against the other "serious, and potentially fatal, cardiovascular diseases" linked with alcohol consumption, lead study author Dr. Angela Wood, a lecturer in biostatistics at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, said in the statement.

The study uses self-reported alcohol consumption across 19 high-income countries.

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"The issue of moderate drinking and its health effects is a very important one, because the majority of people in the country drink and most of those people do so moderately".

Dr Dan G Blazer, co-author, at Duke University in the United States, says doctors and other healthcare professionals must transmit this message to their patients.

Richard Saitz, a professor of community health at Boston University School of Public Health, says that the new information reported in The Lancet raises further ethical questions about an industry-funded study that asks people to drink a substance known to cause cancer even at low levels.

But recent research has suggested that Americans need to reassess how much they drink.

However, the studies analysed were all observational studies, as it wouldn't be ethical to carry out studies where some people were encouraged to drink an unhealthy amount of alcohol.

The US government guidelines define low-risk drinking as two "standard" alcoholic drinks a day for men and one for women plus no more than a total of 14 drinks per week.

What it revealed was troubling: The people who drank more than 100 grams of alcohol a week had shorter lifespans than those who drank less than that.

The research received widespread news coverage, including in BBC News, ITV News, Express, Evening Standard, the i and others.

Now, a new major multinational study has another piece of advice: People who consume more than about six drinks per week have a greater risk of premature death.