When it comes to drinking alcohol, the consensus has long been that if consumed at a moderate amount, one can live a long healthy life. This is evident in that one of the hottest trends is the Mediterranean diet which encourages a daily glass of wine with lunch and dinner. Other ideas supporting this are scientific studies that suggest up to four drinks for a man and up to two drinks for a woman per can be helpful with heart health. It’s has previously been believed to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease, strokes andhigh blood pressure.
A new study is shattering these previous beliefs by providing evidence that drinking more than seven drinks a week can negatively affect heart health and reduce lifespan.
About the Study
In the April 14th, 2018 version of The Lancet, researchers published the startling findings of an internationally conducted study with almost 600,000 participants. Factors such as: age, gender, history of diabetes, history of cardiovascular health, whether the individual was a smoker or not and more were taken into account. Individuals also had to check in one year after their baseline was recorded.
They concluded if individuals drink more than one drink a day, they were more likely to die sooner than a similarly situated person who drank less. This certainly contrasts with recommendations set in the U.S., which can be twice this threshold, and also for much of Europe where guidelines are often 50 percent higher than this study’s standards.
To arrive at their results, the team’s study members recorded over 40,000 deaths among the participants and cross referenced this with information that the participants self-reported concerning their drinking habits. The specific findings are as follows:
Alcohol Consumption per week
Life expectancy reduced by
100 -200 ml
200 – 350 ml
More than 350 ml
Up to 5 years
- Those who drink between 100-200 ml of pure alcohol in a weekly period, can be expected to die six months sooner than those who drink less than 100 ml per week, less. (NOTE: 100 ml = 3.381 fluid ounces.) This implies that even one drink a day reduces life expectancy.
- Drinking between 200-350 ml weekly reduces life expectancy by between one to two years.
- Drinking more than 350 ml each week is predictive of a shorter life by up to five years.
- Despite gender or body weight, the study found no correlation between volume of consumption.
- Any amount of alcohol consumption is related to higher risk of stroke, coronary disease (excluding heart attack), heart failure, fatal hypertensive disease, and fatal aortic aneurysm.
- Drinking alcohol is related to decrease risk of heart attack.
As with any data collected, there can be anomalies. For instance, we sometimes hear stories of people living past the age of 100 with the belief that a glass of wine a day was their secret. However, for the majority of subjects living in high-income countries, drinking more than 100g of alcohol per week can have unhealthy implications including shortened lifespan. Researchers hope that this study will be cited to lower the limit of alcohol consumption from current guidelines.
“Risk thresholds for alcohol consumption: combined analysis of individual-participant data for 599912 current drinkers in 83 prospective studies.” http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(18)30134-X.pdf. The Lancet.: Vol 391 April 14, 2018.