Even light drinking increases the risk of premature death

Drinking a daily glass of wine may not be so healthy after all, suggests a new study.

Even light drinking lifts death risk

Drinking a daily glass of wine for health reasons may not be so healthy after all, suggests a new study.

Researchers from Washington University analysed data from more than 400,000 people aged 18 to 85 and found that consuming one to two drinks four or more times per week – an amount deemed healthy by current guidelines – increases the risk of premature death by 20 per cent, compared with drinking three times a week or less.

The increased risk of death was consistent across age groups.

“It used to seem like having one or two drinks per day was no big deal, and there even have been some studies suggesting it can improve health,” said study author Dr Sarah Hartz.

“But now we know that even the lightest daily drinkers have an increased mortality risk.”

Although some earlier studies have linked light drinking to improvements in cardiovascular health, Dr Hartz said the new study shows that those potential gains are outweighed by other risks.

Her team evaluated heart disease risk and cancer risk and found that although in some cases, drinking alcohol may reduce risk of heart-related problems, daily drinking increased cancer risk and, as a result, mortality risk.

“Consuming one or two drinks about four days per week seemed to protect against cardiovascular disease, but drinking every day eliminated those benefits,” she said.

“With regard to cancer risk, any drinking at all was detrimental.”

The new study comes on the heels of research published in The Lancet, which reviewed data from more than 700 studies around the world and concluded that the safest level of drinking is none. But that study looked at all types of drinking – from light alcohol consumption to binge drinking.

The Washington University team analysis focused on light drinkers: those who consumed only one or two drinks a day.

Two large groups of people in the United States were studied: 340,668 participants, aged 18-85, in the National Health Interview Survey, and another 93,653 individuals, aged 40-60 who were treated as outpatients at Veterans Administration clinics.

“A 20 per cent increase in risk of death is a much bigger deal in older people who already are at higher risk,” Dr Hartz explained.

“Relatively few people die in their 20s, so a 20 per cent increase in mortality is small but still significant.

“As people age, their risk of death from any cause also increases, so a 20 per cent risk increase at age 75 translates into many more deaths than it does at age 25.”

Dr Hartz predicted that as medicine becomes more personalised, some doctors may recommend that people with family histories of heart problems have a drink from time to time, but in families with a history of cancer, physicians may recommend abstinence.

“If you tailor medical recommendations to an individual person, there may be situations under which you would think that occasional drinking could be potentially helpful,” she said. “But overall, I do think people should no longer consider a glass of wine a day to somehow be healthy.”

How many drinks do you consume every week? Will this study force you to reconsider your drinking habits?


    Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.


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    9th Oct 2018
    If I paid attention or even TRIED to alter my habits everyday according to NEW research, NEW surveys, OR the latest tests findings for every human body function....I would lose the will to live! Do what you can with your GP's and other Specialists out there recommendations, but live life to the fullest! You could stop eating and drinking something tomorrow and step out for a walk and get run over by a bus, no one really knows when their time is up until it is up, so ENJOY! and be happy your here no matter how long for!
    9th Oct 2018
    Totally agree grumpyoldwoman. I am past 70 and drink quite a few a day and have done since I was 16 (drinking age in Europe). Stopped smoking cause I could no longer pay the price. And now they want to stop me having a drink - What's next? I do like Baked Beans twice a week out of the fridge not cooked up, any research about that? Might kill me as well but then - I drink to that!!
    9th Oct 2018
    9th Oct 2018
    I believe everything has a component that will kill us. Lets try to remember that we are here for a certain time and that we will die. I say live life to the fullest the best way that you can. In other words have a good time before you go
    9th Oct 2018
    Risky, frisky or downright dirty - if you don't get up outa bed then you're likely to experience any one of (or all, in a certain order of succession) the following -
    dying (there)
    experiencing sheer ecstasy...or
    lying in wet or filthy sheets.

    The moral of life (and thus living) in those three easy to understand steps is - everything in moderation and moderation in everything. As far as the know-all's and their statistical clap trap are concerned I'd say 'phooey/fooey' and to each his own poison... the measure of which may determine both his happiness and the timeliness of his demise. To each his own.

    No gender bias meant or implied.
    10th Oct 2018
    The only bit of this I can relate to is
    "The moral of life (and thus living) in those three easy to understand steps is - everything in moderation and moderation in everything" .

    I particularly like the 3 steps, sort of like the old adage there are three types of people in the world - those who understand maths and and those who don't. Statistics? Very few seem to understand...

    The good meaning is there though: moderation. A little bit of what you like, the pleasure is better for you than the pain the guilt causes. I agree fully with those above, live your short life doing what you enjoy, as the bus is heading for you now. Never miss a day.
    14th Oct 2018
    I only drink on days ending in 'y'.
    14th Oct 2018
    Yes I have known for while that alcohol is toxic to your liver and is of no nutritional benefit, it fries the brain cells and speeds up aging. Sure a lot of people won't give up but then they obviously don't care about keeping as healthy and young as possible. No doctor will ever give you the advice you really need because they do not study nutrition only how to give out pills and send you off to specialists to keep finding out nothing whilst spending money to do so. I enjoy life to the fullest without alcohol, gave up 18 years ago and wish I had done it sooner.
    14th Oct 2018
    I notice they don't make public the negative research on the chemicals doctors prescribe. Only the positive research.

    Alcohol and cigarettes were once the pain killers for the masses.

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