Regularly Having One Too Many Drinks Could Shorten Your Life

New research suggests even the Department of Health's strict new guidelines are too high

New research suggests even the Department of Health's strict new guidelines are too high Credit Image Source

In fact, an worldwide study by the Lancet medical journal found that drinking alcohol multiple times a week may shorten your lifespan.

The findings support recently lowered guidelines in the United Kingdom, which recommend that both men and women should not drink more than 14 units or 112g of pure alcohol in a week.

About half of those studied reported drinking more than 12.5 units a week - roughly five pints or medium glasses of wine - while nearly one in ten (8.5 per cent) consumed more than triple that amount.

A huge study of nearly 600,000 drinkers showed that people who drank more than 12.5 units (100g) of alcohol a week were likely to die sooner than those who drank no more than this amount.

"This study has shown that drinking alcohol at levels which were believed to be safe is actually linked with lower life expectancy", as well as other health problems, study co-author Dr. Dan G. Blazer II, a professor emeritus of psychiatry at Duke University, said in a statement.

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Even more excessive drinking, a weekly total of more than 17 drinks, was linked with a shorter life expectancy of 4-5 years. It estimates that, compared to those who only drink a little, people who drink at the current United Kingdom guidelines suffer no overall harm in terms of death rates, and have 20 per cent fewer heart attacks.

But drinking above 100 grams a week also kicked off much higher risk of stroke, heart failure, fatal aortic aneurysm, and disease from high blood pressure that could cancel out the benefits from lower heart attack risks.

Drinking sensibly has been shown in the past to reduce the chance of a non-fatal heart attack and can even be good for the brain.

The study included data from 599,912 current drinkers and had access to their age, sex smoking status and other factors related to heart disease. Scientists conducted an analysis and found that eating large quantities may give a start to cardiovascular disease and stroke. Spain and Romania set the upper limit for men at the equivalent of 20 drinks each week, for example. They recorded 40,310 deaths and 39,018 cardiovascular disease events among the group's members.

People who follow government guidelines to have a drink or so a day could be drinking themselves into an early grave, researchers said Thursday.

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"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", said Tim Chico, professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Sheffield, who was not involved in the research. Managed to establish that as a result of alcohol consumption more than 40 thousand died in connection with cardiovascular diseases.

The study did have a couple of limitations that are worth noting.

Recommended alcohol limits in many countries should be lowered to around 100g/week for men and women, according to an analysis of data from almost 600,000 current drinkers in 19 countries published in medical journal, The Lancet.

The study suggests that if you are a 40-year-old regularly drinking between 200g and 350g of alcohol per week - about 10 to 18 glasses of wine or pints of beer - you will, according to the research lower your life expectancy by around one to two years. That's one question Angela Wood, who studies epidemiology and lectures at the University of Cambridge, and her team tried to figure out.

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