Health

Every extra drink could shorten your lifespan by 30 minutes

Share
The recommended alcohol limit in Italy and Spain is almost 50 per cent higher than in the UK

"The paper estimates a 40-year-old drinking four units a day above the guidelines [the equivalent of drinking three glasses of wine in a night] has roughly two years' lower life expectancy, which is around a 20th of their remaining life".

People who reported drinking more had higher rates of stroke, heart disease, deadly high blood pressure and fatal aortic aneurysms, the team reported in the Lancet medical journal.

The Australian guidelines published in 2009 are nearly a decade old and recommend "healthy men and women" drink no more than two standard drinks on any day to reduce the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury.

Lead author, Dr Angela Wood, of the University of Cambridge, said: "The key message of this research for public health is that, if you already drink alcohol, drinking less may help you live longer and lower your risk of several cardiovascular conditions". (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.

It's official, everyone: We're drinking too much booze and it's cutting us short of precious life. The findings from the study are in line with United Kingdom guidance which was recently lowered to 6 glasses a week for men and women. A new study has quantified the lifespan-shortening effects of alcohol, finding that for every extra glass of wine or pint of beer over a certain limit, people lose 30 minutes of their life.

The researchers also looked at the association between alcohol consumption and different types of cardiovascular disease.

"Higher alcohol consumption is associated with lower risk of heart attack, but higher risk of stroke, heart failure and other heart events. By contrast, alcohol consumption was associated with a slightly lower risk of non-fatal heart attacks".

Warren said there are studies that show the benefits of limited red wine. However, the overall effects of drinking more than seven drinks a week are more bad than good, lead researcher Wood said. The CDC says more than 38 million American adults admit to binge-drinking once a week and guzzle an average of eight drinks per spree.

Researchers relied on what participants reported drinking at the start, recognizing that many people may be lowballing how much they actually down.

Several Australian studies were part of this collaboration, contributing to the research and making the findings relevant to Australians. The aggregated data did show that moderate drinking is associated with a lower risk of nonfatal heart attacks.

Of course, Victoria Taylor has a good point, saying that we should consider the guidelines as a limit, not a target! In an effort to avoid the problems that have plagued alcohol and health studies for decades, researchers only studied current drinkers, excluding abstainers or those who'd quit drinking.

Share