Drinking to your health is dangerous, new study says

Paris: “There is no safe level of alcohol,” said Max Griswold, a researcher at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle, Washington and lead author for a consortium of more than 500 experts.
Despite recent research showing that light-to-moderate drinking reduces heart disease, the new study found that alcohol use is more likely than not to do harm. “The protective effect of alcohol was offset by the risks,” Griswold said on Friday.
“Overall, the health risks associated with alcohol rose in line with the amount consumed each day.” Compared to abstinence, imbibing one “standard drink” — 10g of alcohol, equivalent to a small beer, glass of wine or shot of spirits — per day, for example, ups the odds of developing at least one of two dozen health problems by about half-a-per cent, the researchers reported.
Looked at one way, that seems like a small increment: 914 out of 100,000 teetotallers will encounter those problems, compared to 918 people who imbibe seven times per week. “But at the global level, that additional risk of 0.5 per cent among (once-a-day) drinkers corresponds to about 100,000 additional deaths each year,” said senior author Emmanuela Gakidou, a professor at the University of Washington.
“Those are excess deaths, in other words, that could be avoided,” she said. The risk climbs in a steep “J-curve”, the study found. An average of two drinks per day, for example, translated into a 7 per cent hike in disease and injury compared to those who opt for abstinence. With five “units” of alcohol per day, the likelihood of serious consequences jumps by 37 per cent. The “less is better, none is best” finding jibes with the World Health Organization’s long-standing position, but is at odds with many national guidelines, especially in the developed world. Britain’s health authority, for example, suggests not exceeding 14 drinks per week “to keep health risks from alcohol to a low level”.
Overall, drinking was the seventh leading risk factor for premature death and disease in 2016, accounting for just over two per cent of deaths in women and nearly seven per cent in men. The top six killers are high blood pressure, smoking, low-birth weight and premature delivery, diabetes, obesity and pollution. But in the 15-49 age bracket, alcohol emerged as the most lethal factor, responsible for more than 12 per cent of deaths among men, the study found. — AFP