Published: Fri, April 13, 2018
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Drinking more alcohol leads to lower life expectancy, research finds

Drinking more alcohol leads to lower life expectancy, research finds

Drink up - but not as much as you might think is OK.

The worldwide study, published in the Lancet journal, also found drinking more alcohol gave a greater risk of suffering a stroke, heart failure, and fatal aneurysm. They said recommended alcohol limits should be lowered to around 12.5 units - equal to five glasses of wine or pints of beer - a week. Women's figures are two a day and 10 a week.

But the new findings, published on Friday in The Lancet, significantly undermine that claim. Alcohol causes more than 60 different health problems including the cardiovascular diseases covered by this study.

Drinking more than that made people die earlier than they would have.

"Around half of people in the study reported drinking more than 100 grams (or 10 standard drinks) of alcohol per week and nearly 10 per cent drank more than 350 grams per week".

"Overall, for a 40-year-old man, the estimated reduction in life expectancy is almost five years for alcohol consumption of more than 350g per week, for a 40-year-old woman it is around four years, compared to consumption of less than 100g per week". Analysis shows that approximately half of all drinkers go over the weekly recommended limit in the 19 high-income countries studied, while nearly one-in-ten people drink more than the equivalent of 21 pints of beer a week.

"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 study supports an adoption of lower limits of alcohol consumption than are recommended in most current guidelines across the globe - 100 grams per week maximum", Professor Hall said.

"But I don't believe there is a safe number", she said.

"Evidence reviews on the health effects of alcohol consumption are now underway, which will help inform the recommendations in the revised guidelines", a spokesman says.

"We knew that exposure to alcohol or sugar turns on production of hormone FGF21 in the liver".

Experts said it challenged the idea that light drinking was good for us.

Here's the reason why you feel thirsty after drinking alcohol or consuming sugar.

Alcohol Action NZ medical spokesman Doug Sellman also said the Kiwi guidelines around drinking should drop.

Limits in Italy, Portugal and Spain are about 50 per cent higher than in Britain, where the threshold for safe drinking was recently lowered to 112g.

"And the more recent data showing such a clear link between alcohol use and cancer underlines the importance of reducing alcohol use to improve health".

They found that the more people drank, the higher their risk of death compared with people who drank less. "Information such as that in the Lancet article will feed into that review scheduled for next year".

"Therefore it is timely to have another look at our current advice".

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