Monday, 23 April, 2018

Just one alcoholic drink a day could shorten your life, study says

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption The UK's drinking limits are at the right level Richard Piper from Alcohol Research UK says Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption The UK's drinking limits are at the right level Richard Piper from Alcohol Research UK says
Melissa Porter | 13 April, 2018, 13:39

"The study found that increased alcohol consumption was associated with a higher risk of stroke, coronary disease, heart failure, aortic aneurysm, and fatal levels of high blood pressure", Professor Hall said.

The study, published in The Lancet, estimated how many years alcohol might slash off your life. In the United States, that's about seven 12-ounce cans of beer, 5-ounce glasses of wine, or 1.5-ounce shots of rum, gin or other distilled spirits.

"An important message from this study is that optimal life expectancy is associated with a relatively low level of alcohol consumption (less than 100g per week), and that higher levels of consumption increase mortality risk", said Bu Yeap, a professor from the University of Western Australia and a co-author of the study, in a statement.

Dr Angela Wood, from the University of Cambridge and lead author of the study, said: "The key message of this research is that, if you already drink alcohol, drinking less may help you live longer and lower your risk of several cardiovascular conditions".

The shocking findings challenge the widely held belief that moderate drinking is beneficial to heart health.

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

Recommended limits for safe alcohol consumption are too high in many developed countries and should be lowered to save lives, a study suggested today.

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

The US government now recommends no more than seven drinks a week for women, but twice that amount for men. None had a known history of cardiovascular disease.

Compared to a person who downs less than 100g alcohol/week, a 40-year-old who consumed between 100-200g is likely to cut their life expectancy by six months.

Authors said the study backed up the UK's recently lowered guidelines, which since 2016 recommend both men and women should not drink more than 14 units of alcohol each week, the equivalent of about six drinks a week.

On average, each unit of alcohol consumed over the 100g threshold, slices about 15 minutes off a person's life - about the same as a cigarette, David Spiegelhalter, a professor in the "understanding of risk" at the University of Cambridge said in a comment on the report.

"The data make it even clearer that the alcohol industry is promoting a misleading view that alcohol use is benign", he says.

"Evidence reviews on the health effects of alcohol consumption are now underway, which will help inform the recommendations in the revised guidelines", a spokesman says.

Follow Alex on Twitter.