Just five alcoholic drinks a week could shorten your life, study says

14 April, 2018, 13:55 | Author: Hope Soto
  • A man drinking beer

Although the study did find that drinking alcohol was associated with a lower risk of non-fatal heart attacks, experts said that "on balance", drinking alcohol has no health benefits. (For women, USA guidelines fall within these recommended amounts, at no more than 98 grams a week.) In Canada, guidelines recommend no more than 136 grams (4.8 ounces) per week for women, and no more than 204 grams (7 ounces) per week for men.

According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, a standard drink in the U.S.is a 12 fl oz. can of regular (5 percent alcohol) beer, a 5 fl oz. glass of 12 percent wine or a 1.5 fl oz. shot of a 40-percent distilled spirit like vodka or whiskey.

"This is a serious wakeup call for many countries", said Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, which helped fund the research.

The US government now recommends no more than seven drinks a week for women, but twice that amount for men.

In contrast to those findings, alcohol consumption was also linked with a slightly lower risk of nonfatal heart attack. None of the drinkers had a history of cardiovascular conditions. However, greater risks from other causes of death outweighed any advantage that might bring.

Where did the story come from?

Their findings were published Thursday in the journal Lancet.

A spokesman for the Portman Group, the social responsibility body for alcohol producers in the United Kingdom, said: "Official statistics show that the vast majority (76%) chose not to drink or drink within guidelines, which are among the lowest in Europe".

What kind of research was this?

The work combined results from 83 studies carried out in 19 countries. The new study confirmed an association between drinking and cancers of the digestive system. Spiegelhalter was not involved in the research.

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Estimated future years of life lost by extent of reported baseline alcohol consumption compared with those who reported consuming 0-≤100 g per week. However, it's very easy to cross the risky threshold over which cardiovascular diseases have a field day. About half of the people in the study reported drinking more than 12.5 units of alcohol a week.

An analysis of 600,000 drinkers found that drinking five to 10 alcoholic drinks a week was likely to shorten a person's life by up to six months.

Drinking alcohol was linked with a lower risk of non-fatal heart disease, but scientists said this benefit was "swamped" by the increased risk of other forms of heart disease.

This was an impressive study that analysed a lot of high-quality data. For women, the recommendation tops out at one drink per day, which is 98 grams per week.

The research contradicts other commonly held notions that drinking in moderation is good for your heart.

The study did have a couple of limitations that are worth noting. The key to enjoying alcohol without putting yourself at risk is understanding the amount doctors say is safe to consume.

But the authors highlight that their study account for people who may have changed their drinking habits and relied on data from people reporting their own drinking habits.

The UK recommends people do not drink more than 14 units a week - or around 6 pints of beer or glasses of wine - giving it one of the strictest set of guidelines in the world.


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