Even One Drink A Day Could Shorten Life Expectancy

Even one drink a day could be shortening your life expectancy says new study

A team of worldwide researchers studied the drinking habits of nearly 600,000 current drinkers included in 83 studies across 19 countries where about 50% reported drinking more than 100 grams per week and 8.4% more than 350 grams per week.

About half the people in the study reported drinking more than 100 grams of alcohol per week, and 8 percent drank more than 350 grams (12 ounces) per week.

Scientists claim that alcohol consumption in excess of 100 g reduces life by six months, respectively, taking alcohol dose of 250 g up to 2 years.

However, drinking above this limit was linked with lower life expectancy.

The researchers say that recommended drinking guidelines in the United Kingdom - which were recently lowered to 14 units per week - are a good guideline. In Britain, that's about six pints of beer a week.

"Although non-fatal heart attacks are less likely in people who drink, this benefit is swamped by the increased risk of other forms of heart disease including fatal heart attacks and strokes".

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

"Recommended limits in Italy, Portugal, and Spain are almost 50 percent higher than this, and in the US, the upper limit for men is nearly double", the researchers found.

Dr Angela Wood, from the University of Cambridge, .

He also noted it was important to remember the study focussed on mortality rates, not quality of life.

Professor Bu Yeap, a co-author from the School of Medicine at the University of Western Australia, says the study is important as it analyses data from almost 600,000 people from all over the world.

Several Australian studies were part of this collaboration, contributing to the research and making the findings relevant to Australians. The really heaviest drinkes out there might lose as many years of life as a smoker (ten years lost), the researchers say.

In the new study, published yesterday (April 12) in the journal The Lancet, researchers concluded that drinking guidelines should be lowered to a limit of 100 grams a week.

The researchers estimated that reducing long-term drinking from the two-drink a day limit suggested by the U.S. government, to less than one a day, was associated with a one- to two-year boost in life expectancy in men.

"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".

The American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund recommend in a joint report that people limit alcohol.

The researchers found that the more alcohol a person consumed, the higher their risk of stroke and heart failure.

In contrast to those findings, alcohol consumption was also linked with a slightly lower risk of nonfatal heart attack.

The study was covered widely in the United Kingdom media, with many outlets reporting variations on the life expectancy that could be lost for every drink or number of drinks consumed.

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.

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