If you think there isn’t anything wrong with having a few drinks, think again. Research has found that there is no safe level of alcohol…
There is no safe level of drinking alcohol.
This is the conclusion of a new study, published in the international medical journal The Lancet, shows that in 2016, nearly three million deaths worldwide were attributed to alcohol use.
The study also found alcohol to be responsible for 12 percent of deaths in males between the ages of 15 and 49.
Alcohol linked to premature deaths, cancer and heart problems
“The health risks associated with alcohol are massive,” said Dr Emmanuela Gakidou of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington and the senior author of the study.
“Our findings are consistent with other recent research, which found clear and convincing correlations between drinking and premature death, cancer, and cardiovascular problems. Zero alcohol consumption minimises the overall risk of health loss.”
Dr Gakidou is a professor of health metrics sciences at the UW School of Medicine, and of global health at the UW School of Public Health.
“The health risks associated with alcohol are massive” – Dr Emmanuela Gakidou
More men drink alcohol than women
Researchers used data on all alcohol-related deaths generally and related health outcomes.
Alcohol use patterns vary widely by country and by sex, the average consumption per drinker, and the attributable disease burden. Globally, more than two billion people were current drinkers in 2016; 63% were male.
“Average consumption” refers to a standard drink, defined in the study as 10 grams of pure alcohol, consumed by a person daily, about the equivalent of:
- A small glass of red wine (100 ml or 3.4 fluid ounces) at 13% alcohol by volume
- A can or bottle of beer (375 ml or 12 fluid ounces) at 3,5% alcohol by volume
- A shot of whisky or other spirits (30 ml or 1.0 fluid ounces) at 40% alcohol by volume
“Standard drinks” are different by country. For example, in the United Kingdom a standard drink is 8 grams of alcohol, whereas in Australia, the United States, and Japan, it is 10 grams, 14 grams, and 20 grams, respectively.
Alcohol is one of the major causes of death in the world today
The study assessed alcohol-related health outcomes and patterns between 1990 and 2016 for 195 countries and territories and by age and sex.
It provides findings on prevalence of current drinking, prevalence of abstention, alcohol consumption among current drinkers, and deaths and overall poor health attributable to alcohol for 23 health outcomes, such as communicable and non-communicable diseases and injuries, including:
- Cardiovascular diseases: atrial fibrillation and flutter, hemorrhagic stroke, ischemic stroke, hypertensive heart disease, ischemic heart disease, and alcoholic cardiomyopathy
- Cancers: breast, colorectal, liver, esophageal, larynx, lip and oral cavity, and nasal
- Other non-communicable diseases: cirrhosis of the liver due to alcohol use, diabetes, epilepsy, pancreatitis, and alcohol use disorders
- Communicable diseases: lower respiratory infections and tuberculosis
- Intentional injuries: interpersonal violence and self-harm
- Unintentional injuries: exposure to mechanical forces; poisonings; fire, heat, and hot substances; drowning; and other unintentional injuries
- Transportation-related injuries
“We now understand that alcohol is one of the major causes of death in the world today,” said Lancet Editor Richard Horton. “We need to act now. We need to act urgently to prevent these millions of deaths. And we can.”
This study used 694 data sources on individual and population-level alcohol consumption, along with 592 prospective and retrospective studies on the risk of alcohol use. More than 500 GBD collaborators, such as researchers, academics, and others from more than 40 nations contributed to the study, according to Max Griswold, senior researcher and lead author.
“With the largest collected evidence base to date, our study makes the relationship between health and alcohol clear – drinking causes substantial health loss, in a myriad of ways, all over the world,” Dr Griswold said.
Source: University of Washington School of Medicine via www.sciencedaily.com
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