To minimize health risks, the optimal amount of alcohol someone should consume is none. This is the simple, surprising conclusion of an extensive study co-authored by 512 researchers from 243 institutions and published Thursday in the prestigious Lancet journal.
Researchers created a database of more than one thousand alcohol studies and data sources, as well as records of deaths and disabilities from 1
"What was underestimated is surprising that no alcohol consumption is good for you," said Emmanuela Gakidou, professor of global health at the University of Washington and the University of Washington (19659004) "People should no longer believe that One or two drinks a day are good for you. The best thing for you is not to drink at all, "she said.
The report found that 2.8 million people around the world died of alcohol-related causes in 2016, which is roughly proportional to the 2.0 million who died in 1990. For people aged 15 to 49, alcohol is the most important risk factor for a negative health result. 19659002] This is a sobering report for the approximately 2 billion people who drink alcohol. The report challenges the controversial hypothesis that moderate drinking provides a clear health benefit. This idea prevailed in the 1990s after the news of the "French paradox": The French have relatively low rates of heart disease, despite a low-fat diet. Some researchers pointed out that red wine use is potentially protective for the French.
Numerous peer review studies have found that people who drink one or two drinks a day have less heart disease than people who drink or drink too much. But the new study, which notes the lower risk of heart disease from moderate alcohol intake and a decline in the rate of diabetes among women, found that many other health risks offset and overstretched health benefits. These include the risk of breast cancer, throat cancer, stroke, cirrhosis, tuberculosis, interpersonal violence, self-harm and transport accidents.
"Current and emerging scientific evidence does not suggest that overall moderate alcohol consumption brings with it health benefits." said Robert Brewer, who runs the alcohol program at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and was not involved in the new research. He pointed out that alcohol studies have long been followed by "confounders" – factors that cause a misleading sense of cause and effect.
"People who report moderation tend to be very different from those who do not drink at all." They tend to be a healthier population, they tend to exercise more, they tend to be wealthier "They tend to have more access to health care," Brewer said.
The National Institutes of Health had sponsored a massive clinical trial, largely funded by the alcohol industry, by funding a charitable foundation to test the moderate drinking hypothesis March's New York Times revealed that researchers were in contact with alcohol industry representatives, and a subsequent NIH study concluded that the study design was flawed
Lead author Max Griswold of the University of Washington said this new report is the largest alcohol study to date.
There follows another, less comprehensive analysis of alcohol and mortality published in the Lancet in April. The first suggested that mortality rates increase when people consume more than 100 grams of pure alcohol per week (approximately in seven standard American beers).
Drinkers can calm down a bit that the new Lancet report focuses not on individuals but on populations. It estimates risks of alcohol-related illnesses and disabilities per 100,000 people depending on alcohol consumption. The authors do not suggest that there is a significant risk of drinking a sip of alcohol. Risks increase dramatically with heavy drinking.
US dietary guidelines define low-risk drinking as one drink per day for women and two per day for men (and none for persons under the age of 21 or pregnant women). Brewer from the CDC said if people stick to the guidelines, "the risk of damage across the board will be low, it will not be zero, but it will be low."
"It's very small risk with one drink a day, it goes up when you go to two drinks a day, it all depends on all the other risk factors the individual has," she said. "For a certain person, it can not hurt to drink a drink a day."
In an e-mail, she cracked the numbers. She said that one drink per day increases a person's risk of developing one of the 23 conditions for alcohol by 0.5 percent – "a small increase in risk," as she put it. With two drinks a day, the risk is 7 percent higher. It's 37 percent higher with five drinks a day, she said.
The authors of the report suggest that public health authorities around the world should pay more attention to alcohol. Any reduction in average consumption in a population should have health benefits.
U.S. Health officials have highlighted the issue of intoxication and have said that legislators should take a variety of measures into account, including alcohol taxes and alcohol density restrictions
"Alcohol consumption is very sensitive to price," Brewer said. 19659002] The United Kingdom is already experimenting with a minimum price for each unit of alcohol sold in Scotland. A similar minimum is planned for Northern Ireland and Wales. England will have no minimum. Proponents believe that they will soon see a divergence in health outcomes to prove that the Scottish model pays off, according to a commentary posted in the Lancet.
"We need to change prices, it's disproportionately cheap," said David Nutt, a professor at Imperial College London, who reviewed the Lancet report but was not part of the research team. "We have to get rid of cheap alcohol – the reduced beers and lagers and wines and sherries."
The new report contains some insightful figures on alcohol consumption. Almost everyone in Denmark drinks: 97 percent of men and 95 percent of women. The United States is relatively moderate: 73 percent of men and 60 percent of women drink. It ranks 51st and 47th worldwide for men and women. The statistics cover persons over 15 years.
The country with the highest alcohol consumption is Romania, where men consume an average of 8.2 drinks a day. Portugal follows with 7.2. In Luxembourg, Lithuania and Ukraine, the average number of men was 7.0
Among women, the highest consumption in Ukraine averages 4.2 drinks per day, followed by Andorra, Luxembourg, Belarus and Sweden
Most Muslim majority countries report almost no alcohol consumption. The average for women in Iran is essentially zero and registers at 0.0003 drinks a day, the lowest rate in the world. The lowest for men is in Pakistan, with an average of 0.0007 drinks per day.
Americans should note that this study is a relatively conservative (or what someone at a bar would call unfriendly) definition of a drink: 10 grams of pure alcohol. In the United States, a "standard drink" is 14 grams – about as much alcohol as in a typical 12 ounce American beer or a 5 ounce glass of table wine.
The average consumption is increased by the highest drinker, Griswold notes. The study did not differentiate between beer, wine and alcohol.
Griswold noticed that he still drinks alcohol – but added, "Not so much after this study."