Regular Drinking To Excess Could Take Years Off Your Life, Says Study

Frederick Owens
April 15, 2018

Scientists conducted an analysis and found that eating large quantities may give a start to cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Researchers looked at 83 studies involving 600,000 people from 19 high-income countries, with nearly half of data coming from the UK.

The findings are broadly in line with United Kingdom alcohol guidelines, which since 2016 have recommended drinking no more than 14 units of alcohol per week for both men and women.

"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".

A 40-year-old drinking half a dozen 6 ounce glasses of wine a week is considered a safe limit, researchers said. But this study also suggests that whatever level you drink at, even if it's under the guidelines, drinking even less will help reduce your health risks. "But above two units a day, the death rates steadily climb", explained Professor David Spiegelhalter from the University of Cambridge, who was not involved in the study. Over 120 scientists gathered data on the drinking habits and cardiovascular health of nearly 600,000 current drinkers across the world. However, it's very easy to cross the risky threshold over which cardiovascular diseases have a field day.

Those consuming 10-15 drinks a week could expect to lose one to two years of their life, while those consuming 18 or more were likely to die four or five years earlier.

Current Irish guidelines recommend a limit of 170g pure alcohol (17 standard drinks) per week for men and 110g pure alcohol (11 standard drinks) for women.

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"Alcohol consumption is associated with a slightly lower risk of non-fatal heart attacks, but this must be balanced against the higher risk associated with other serious - and potentially fatal - cardiovascular diseases", Wood said in a statement. But the study found a striking linear relationship between alcohol intake and dying from any cause.

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

Angela Wood, who is the lead author of the study and senior lecturer at the University of Cambridge told The Washington Post, "When the US reviews their guidelines, I will hope they would use this as evidence to consider lowering the guidelines for men probably in line with female guidelines".

The findings dovetail with recent research showing that even low levels of alcohol raise the risk of cancer, particularly breast and colon cancer.

Tim Chico, professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Sheffield, reckons the study is proof that drinking lots and getting away with it is "too good to be true".

"Excessive drinking for an extended period of time increases the risk of cardiovascular disease". Virtually every researcher working on the study has ties to industry. The CDC says more than 38 million American adults admit to binge-drinking once a week and guzzle an average of eight drinks per spree. The US-government funded trial is "testing this amount [of alcohol] that appears to increase death", he says.

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