Just five alcoholic drinks a week could shorten your life, study says

Drinking alcohol linked to lower life expectancy

A new study of almost 600,000 people who drink in 19 countries shows that those extra drinks add up and cut our lives short. The upper safe limit of drinking was about five drinks per week (100g of pure alcohol, 12.5 units or just over five pints of 4 per cent ABV2 beer or five 175ml glasses of 13 per cent ABV wine).

However, Victoria Taylor, who is a senior dietician at the British Heart Foundation, which partly funded the study, said that this doesn't mean the United Kingdom "should rest on its laurels".

Excess alcohol consumptions can lead to a high risk of a range of life-threatening illnesses, including stroke and heart failure.

It was found that a high-fat/low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet stimulated water drinking in normal mice while mice genetically unable to produce FGF21 failed to increase water intake in response to that nutritional stress. However, greater risks from other causes of death outweighed any advantage that might bring. But more recently, scientists have taken aim at a lot of those studies, finding their methodology deeply flawed and casting serious doubt as to whether alcohol really is some kind of miracle drug.

Where did the story come from?

Dr Tony Rao, visiting lecturer in old age psychiatry at King's College London, said the study "highlights the need to reduce alcohol related harm in baby boomers, an age group now at highest risk of rising alcohol misuse".

Nowcomes a huge study spearheaded by the UK's University of Cambridge published in The Lancet this week.

There's a transatlantic difference of opinion about drinking limits for men and women. There's also no agreed classification for the size of a glass of wine.

Dr Angela Wood, from the University of Cambridge, .

What kind of research was this?

The new study confirmed an association between drinking and cancers of the digestive system.

There is still a small benefit to drinking, which has been much flagged in the past. Spiegelhalter was not involved in the research.

Professors Wayne Hall and Jason Connor from the Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research have made the recommendations following a study on global alcohol consumption.

This news isn't gonna go down well: A group of researchers has studied the drinking habits of 600,000 people to determine, once and for all, the "risk thresholds associated with the lowest risk of mortality". They made a point of excluding people who had a known history of heart problems at the time they had entered a study.

Limits notwithstanding, the research team couldn't be clearer on their results.

A spokesman for industry body the Alcohol Information Partnership said: "This report confirms our view that moderate drinking does not pose a risk to most people".

Drinking raises the risk of stroke by 14%, heart failure by 9% and fatal aortic aneurysm by 15%, the researchers said.

A sweeping worldwide study of alcohol consumption has found no overall health benefits from moderate drinking and calls into question the USA guidelines that say men can safely drink twice as much as women. Research that rolls together previous studies can be problematic if they aren't similar enough, though this one appears to have done a good job at overcoming that obstacle and combining comparable data, Jernigan said.

The work regarding cardiovascular disease and heart attacks is useful and challenges the widespread belief that alcohol reduces the risk of cardiovascular conditions.

The study did have a couple of limitations that are worth noting.

About half of the people included in the study said they had more than 100 grams of alcohol per week. It's not built to make firm conclusions about cause and effect.

The study shows that 40-year old people who stick to the limit of five glasses a week could increase their life expectancy by up to two years.

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