Drinking more alcohol linked to lower life expectancy, research finds

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The study included dozens of researchers from around the world and almost 600,000 drinkers in 19 countries. Spain, Portugal and Italy, the study states, have recommended limits almost 50% higher than the 100-gram threshold.

Compared to drinking under 100 grams of alcohol per week, drinking 100 to 200 grams was estimated to shorten the life span of a 40-year-old by six months.

The more you drink, the higher your risk, the study says.

(The U.S. classifies "moderate intake" as one daily drink for women and two for men; the limit in Italy and Spain, meanwhile, is nearly 50 percent higher, and England advises both sexes not to exceed five drinks per week.) And this discrepancy in advice is exactly what researchers wanted to fix, eventually settling on their 100-gram weekly total. Half of the participants reported consuming more than 100g of alcohol a week and 8.4% drank more than 350g per week (the heavy drinkers).

Just think how easy it is to sink six pints of nice, cold lager on a hot summer's day, or to work your way through a few glasses of wine after a long day.

Drinking alcohol was linked with a reduced risk of non-fatal heart disease, but scientists said this benefit was wiped out by a higher risk of other forms of the illness.

That means drinking advisements in many countries around the world may be far too loose.

"Recommended limits in Italy, Portugal, and Spain are almost 50 percent higher than this, and in the U.S., the upper limit for men is nearly double", the researchers found. But we also certainly know the downside to going overboard, as excessive drinking can lead to nasty hangovers and health issues.


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

He also noted it was important to remember the study focussed on mortality rates, not quality of life. The researchers collected 83 individual studies from 1964 up to 2010, including one from Erasmus MC.

"Nationally, consumption has been in decline for the last decade and most importantly harmful drinking and binge drinking are also in decline". Beyond that, between 200g and 350g a week, they can expect to lose one to two years of life.

The new study estimates that 40-year-old men who drink as much as the current USA guidelines allow can expect to live one to two years less than men who have no more than seven drinks per week.

A large new study has suggested that you are more at risk of dying or of a range of heart and circulatory conditions if you have as little as one alcoholic drink a day.

The researchers found that the more alcohol a person consumed, the higher their risk of stroke and heart failure.

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.

But the authors highlight that their study account for people who may have changed their drinking habits and relied on data from people reporting their own drinking habits. The Cambridge study tried to assess how useful such guidelines really are based on the science behind them, and where the true bright line might be when it comes to figuring out relatively safe drinking limits.

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