Effects of light alcohol consumption on your health
Previous studies have suggested that low-level alcohol consumption protects cardiovascular health but increases the risk of cancer. Another previous study that reviewed more than 700 studies from around the world concluded that the safest drinking level is not drinking at all. While this study took all kinds of drinking levels into consideration, a new study from Washington University School of Medicine investigated the overall impact of low-level drinking — one or two drinks a day — on mortality.
Even though the current guidelines deem one to two drinks four or more times per week as healthy, the researchers found that at that drinking level the risk of premature death increases by 20 per cent, compared to drinking three times a week or less.
For this study, the researchers analysed data from two data sets with self‐reported alcohol use: 340,668 individuals aged 18-85 from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and 93,653 individuals aged 40-60 from the Veterans Health Administration (VA) outpatient medical records. The researchers evaluated heart disease risk, cancer risk and the association between low-level alcohol consumption and mortality.
The findings of this study showed the potential risks associated with light drinking outweighed any potential gains for cardiovascular health. The researchers found that although in some cases, consuming one or two drinks about four days per week may reduce the risk of heart-related problems; but drinking daily alcohol increased the risk for cancer and thus increased mortality risk.
Even though the current guidelines deem one to two drinks four or more times per week as healthy, the researchers found that at that drinking level the risk of premature death increases by 20 per cent, compared to drinking three times a week or less. This increased risk of death was consistent across age groups. The researchers also found the minimum risk of low‐level drinking frequency for all‐cause mortality was found to be about three times weekly. However, daily drinking, even at low levels, was found to be detrimental.
For people with a family history of heart problems, health care providers may recommend that people have a drink from time to time. But the researchers recommend that people should no longer consider a glass of wine a day to be healthy, especially those who have a family history of cancer.
Source: Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research
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