There is no healthy level of alcohol consumption, here’s why
Contrary to claims that one or two glasses of wine a day keep you healthy, a study published in the prestigious journal The Lancet has warned that there is no safe level of drinking alcohol as it is associated with nearly one in 10 deaths among middle-aged people.
The findings showed that any health benefits of alcohol against heart disease and diabetes are outweighed by its adverse effects on other aspects of health, particularly cancer. “The conclusions of the study are clear and unambiguous: alcohol is a colossal global health issue and small reductions in health-related harms at low levels of alcohol intake are outweighed by the increased risk of other health-related harms, including cancer,” said Robyn Burton, from the King’s College London.
Globally, one in three people (32.5%) drink alcohol — equivalent to 2.4 billion people — including 25% of women (0.9 billion women) and 39% of men (1.5 billion men). Consequently, 2.2% of women and 6.8% of men died from alcohol-related health problems each year.
“Policies focussing on reducing alcohol consumption to the lowest levels will be important to improve health. The widely held view of the health benefits of alcohol needs revising, particularly as improved methods and analyses continue to shed light on how much alcohol contributes to global death and disability,” said lead author Max Griswold, from the University of Washington in the US.
The Global Burden of Disease study estimated the level of alcohol use and health effects in 28 million people across 195 countries between 1990 and 2016. For people aged 50 and older, cancers were a leading cause of alcohol related death, constituting 27.1% of deaths in women and 18.9% deaths in men.
“Worldwide we need to revisit alcohol control policies and health programmes, and to consider recommendations for abstaining from alcohol. These include excise taxes on alcohol, controlling the physical availability of alcohol and the hours of sale, and controlling alcohol advertising. Any of these policy actions would contribute to reductions in population-level consumption, a vital step toward decreasing the health loss associated with alcohol use,” the researchers said.
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