That Extra Glass of Wine Might Take 30 Minutes off Your Life

15 April, 2018, 01:29 | Author: Joshua Bennett
  • Do you have more than 7 drinks in a week? You are likely to die sooner than those who drink less

The findings challenge the widely held belief that moderate drinking is beneficial to cardiovascular health, and support the UK's recently lowered guidelines. "Drinking is really fun, but you should not do it for your health".

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 the new study, published yesterday (April 12) in the journal The Lancet, researchers concluded that drinking guidelines should be lowered to a limit of 100 grams a week. "These findings underline what we have already said". (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. However, drinking above this limit was linked with lower life expectancy.

There are some health benefits to be gained from drinking moderate amounts of alcohol, but science cautions that it will start negatively affecting your health past a certain threshold. The new study also excluded people with existing heart disease. It considered about 600,000 people who drank alcohol.

Do you have more than 7 drinks in a week? You are likely to die sooner than those who drink less

A standard drink contains 10g of pure alcohol and is equivalent to a half-pint of 4.5% lager, a small glass of a wine or a pub measure of spirits. Analysis shows that approximately half of all drinkers go over the weekly recommended limit in the 19 high-income countries studied, while nearly one-in-ten people drink more than the equivalent of 21 pints of beer a week. But the study found a striking linear relationship between alcohol intake and dying from any cause.

The study found similar results for men and women and pointed out that people aged 40 who consume 200-350g per week could increase their life expectancy by up to three years if they halved their alcohol consumption. "Alcohol consumption is associated with a slightly lower risk of non-fatal heart attacks but this must be balanced against the higher risk associated with other serious - and potentially fatal - cardiovascular diseases". Drinking increases the risk of stroke, heart failure, high blood pressure and a rupture in the aorta.

David Spiegelhalter, a risk expert at Britain's University of Cambridge, said, "The paper estimates a 40-year-old drinking four units a day above the guidelines has roughly two years lower life expectancy". Above this, there was increased risk of both heart attack and heart disease. And it raises further questions about why the federal government is now recruiting subjects for a clinical trial, financed by the alcohol industry, to try to prove that alcohol prevents heart disease.

"It's a very impressive study", said Aaron White, senior scientific adviser at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the National Institutes of Health.


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