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

Study reveals sobering news on how much you should be drinking

The more you drink, the higher your risk, the study says. Experts have found that as harmless quantities are 100 grams of pure alcohol per week, which is equivalent to five glasses of beer with a strength of 4% or 875 ml of wine alcohol 13%.

The Australian guidelines published in 2009 are nearly a decade old and recommend "healthy men and women" drink no more than two standard drinks on any day to reduce the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury. Above this, there was increased risk of both heart attack and heart disease.

The researchers calculated life would be shortened by an average of 1.3 years for women and 1.6 years for men for people aged 40 who drank above the United Kingdom weekly limit in comparison with those drinking below the limit.

Excess alcohol consumptions can lead to a high risk of a range of life-threatening illnesses, including stroke and heart failure. They noted that while alcohol may lower the risk of non-fatal heart attacks, it found that "on balance" there were no health benefits from drinking.

But balanced against the increased risk of a stroke and other heart problems, the impact of drinking more than seven drinks a week is more bad than good, said the study's lead author, Dr. Angela Wood of the University of Cambridge in England.

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The global study, part-funded by the British Heart Foundation, also looked at the association between alcohol and different types of cardiovascular disease.

The researchers used a big dataset of life expectancy models to calculate how the relative risks of drinking different amounts of alcohol would affect the life expectancy of people aged 40.

The new report, published Thursday in The Lancet and boasting 120 co-authors, aggregated data from multiple studies of drinking patterns and health outcomes among almost 600,000 people in 19 high-income countries.

"This powerful study may make sobering reading for countries that have set their recommendations at higher levels than the United Kingdom, but this does seem to broadly reinforce government guidelines for the United Kingdom", said Victoria Taylor, the Senior dietician at the British Heart Foundation.

Australian Medical Association vice-president Dr Tony Bartone told The New Daily the findings were a "wake-up call" for drinkers to consume no more than one-and-a-half standard drinks a day.

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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.

A sweeping worldwide study of alcohol consumption has found no overall health benefits from moderate drinking and calls into question the U.S. guidelines that say men can safely drink twice as much as women.

"These figures are in line with the UK Chief Medical Officer's guidance and support previous studies which show that the lifetime risk from many cardiovascular diseases for most people who are moderate drinkers is lower than for those who drink heavily, or don't drink at all".

The research received widespread news coverage, including in BBC News, ITV News, Express, Evening Standard, the i and others. But perhaps the biggest gut punch is their math on the consequences you can face for drinking more than that. It considered about 600,000 people who drank alcohol.

While most Canadians drink alcohol in moderation, the government estimates four to five million of them engage in high risk drinking.

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