A new study in The Lancet, has managed to cast more than a shadow of doubt on the current U.S. ‘safe’ upper limit for alcohol consumption. The study agrees with the popular research that has been circulated for the past few years, in that ‘moderate’ drinking is too risky and that ‘low’ levels are recommended. The variance in the new study is that it recommends a much lower level of alcohol consumption than that which is recommended by the U.S., which is roughly 196g/week for men, and half of that for women. The team, led by the University of Cambridge, insists that the safe limit is closer to about 100g of alcohol for men, or the equivalent of five drinks, per week.
As reported in Forbes, the study used data from 83 previous studies on the drinking habits of roughly 600,000 people from 19 countries across the globe. Adjusting for other risks, such as smoking, diabetes, or age, the research watched the health outcomes of the participants for a course of seven to eight years. They found health risks for those who consumed over 100g in alcohol weekly. The study states that for anything more than the five drinks per week, risk of fatal hypertensive disease (high blood pressure)increased by 24%, the risk of stroke increased by 14%, fatal aortic aneurysm (burst blood vessel) by 15%, and the risk of heart failure increased by 9%. The study continued to find that increased consumption would reduce life expectancy. Consuming more than 10 alcoholic beverages a week, was linked to a reduced life expectancy of one to two years. Consuming more than 18 drinks weekly was linked with a decreased life span by four to five years.
The study strongly suggests that the U.S.’s current ‘safe’ limit of 196g weekly is too risky. A person following such a suggestion would be at risk for a reduced life expectancy by 2.7 years. The recommended limit in the U.K. of 112g (for age 40), seems more credible. That would amount to roughly six to seven glasses of wine, or five to six pints of beer, per week. Even drinking 112g a week may be slightly high, according to this study, reducing live expectancy by 1.6 years. Recommended consumption levels around the globe vary, with many European countries including Italy, Spain and Portugal publishing recommendations about 50% higher than that of the U.S.
“These data support adoption of lower limits of alcohol consumption than are recommended in most current guidelines,” wrote the authors of the study.
By: Hadassa Kalatizadeh