Calls for a review of safe alcohol consumption guidelines

15 April, 2018, 01:26 | Author: Jared Lewis
  • Drinking alcohol linked to lower life expectancy

Drinking raises the risk of stroke by 14%, heart failure by 9% and fatal aortic aneurysm by 15%, the researchers said. US recommendations state men shouldn't consume more than 14 standard drinks per week, but that's almost twice the limit proposed in this new study.

The study suggests that the risk of premature death rose quickly when more than 100g of alcohol was consumed per week - that's five to six glasses of wine or pints of beer.

An global team of researchers looked at data from 600,000 people in 19 countries, who were asked about drinking habits dating back as long ago as 1964.

The study found that drinking between 100-200 grams of alcohol could decrease one's life expectancy by six months, 200-350 grams by two years and more than 350 grams by four years.

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Current Irish guidelines recommend a limit of 170g pure alcohol (17 standard drinks) per week for men and 110g pure alcohol (11 standard drinks) for women.

United Kingdom guidelines were changed in 2016 to 14 units every week for men and women, lower than the limits in Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Notably, the heavier drinkers were less likely to have a heart attack. Italians, Portuguese and Spanish drinkers are warned that consuming more than around nine glasses of wine could be unsafe. But even that is too much, according to this new study. But we also certainly know the downside to going overboard, as excessive drinking can lead to nasty hangovers and health issues.

That's about 10 standard drinks a week and is significantly lower than the no more than two-a-day limit imposed under official Australian Guidelines.

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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.

Most Canadians drink alcohol and, as a country, we consume more than 50 per cent above the world average. Set at just 14 units a week for men and women, they were introduced to a certain amount of skepticism by England's chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies in 2016.

The authors note that the different relationships between alcohol intake and various types of cardiovascular disease can be explained, at least in part, by the effect of alcohol consumption on elevated blood pressure and on factors related to lipoprotein cholesterol. The researchers call on health organizations to lower the advice for healthy alcohol use, the Volkskrant reports.

About half of the people included in the study said they had more than 100 grams of alcohol per week. The alcohol industry has helped perpetuate the notion, funding and promoting further studies claiming a host of other health benefits from moderate alcohol consumption-everything from lower rates of deafness to a prevention for dementia.

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It relied on self-reported drinking habits, and didn't take into account the effect of alcohol over the course of a person's life, for example. The Lancet study, however, found no evidence to support different guidelines for women and men.

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