A drink a day could be deadly, study finds

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Scientists analysed almost 600,000 drinkers in 19 countries, and calculated how much their life would be reduced if they drank the same amount for the rest of their lives from the age of 40.

In Canada, the recommended limit for alcohol consumption is no more than 10 drinks per week for women, and no more than 15 per week for men.

Drinking the equivalent of 100-200g of pure alcohol a week shortened life expectancy by about six months compared to drinking less than 100g, they found.

The Netherlands' guideline for drinking alcohol is: do not drink alcohol, or at least not more than one glass a day.

The U.S. government recommends women drink no more than seven drinks a week and 14 for men.

About half the participants reported drinking more than 100g per week, and 8.4% drank more than 350g per week. This equates to around six pints of beer or six glasses of wine a week.

Although non-fatal heart attacks were found to be slightly less likely in people who drank alcohol, this benefit would be outweighed by the increased risk of other forms of heart and circulatory diseases, including heart failure and stroke.

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"This study has shown that drinking alcohol at levels which were believed to be safe is actually linked with lower life expectancy and several adverse health outcomes", said Dr Dan Blazer, the report's co-author.

He also noted it was important to remember the study focussed on mortality rates, not quality of life.

Nowcomes a huge study spearheaded by the UK's University of Cambridge published in The Lancet this week. In fact, over-drinking could be as bad for your health as many years of smoking. Having 18 drinks or more per week was linked with 4-5 years shorter life expectancy.

That interpretation is not likely to be welcomed by the alcohol industry, which has embraced the idea, backed by the medical establishment, that moderate drinking may be good for you by lowering the risk of a heart attack.

According to the latest US dietary guidelines, updated every five years and again in 2020, women should drink no more than one serving of alcohol per day; men can drink up to two.

Petra Meier, professor of public health at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, points out that "the health risk associated with alcohol consumption can vary between countries depending on other conditions - for example, rates of smoking, obesity or the prevalence of other underlying health problems - so it may well make sense to set country-specific drinking guidelines". Alcohol drinking is linked to strokes, heart failure, and fatal aneurysm. 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. However, if people in the studies routinely underestimated their alcohol consumption, that would mean the meta-analysis results tend towards underestimating the harm alcohol causes.

You could be taking years off your life by regularly drinking more than the advised United Kingdom guidelines for alcohol, according to new research from an worldwide team. During the following weeks volunteers each week used from 100 ml of alcohol.

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