There is no safe level of alcohol intake, study warns

There is no safe level of alcohol intake, study warns

There is no safe level of alcohol intake, study warns

According to the study, drinking was the seventh leading risk factor for premature death and disease in 2016, accounting for around 2 percent of deaths in women and almost 7 percent in men.

Drinking limits were cut in 2016 for men from 21 units to 14 units a week - bringing them in line with the guidelines for women.

The Global Burden of Disease study looked at levels of alcohol use and its health effects in 195 countries, including the United Kingdom, between 1990 and 2016.

Denmark had the highest proportion of alcohol consumers, 95.3 per cent of women and 97.3 per cent of men, and Pakistan and Bangladesh the lowest.

The findings add robust support to a number of studies that highlight the drawbacks of alcohol consumption despite that other, modest research found an association between light to moderate drinking and extended life.

Alcohol use was blamed for 2.8 million deaths in 2016, according to the study, and was the seventh leading risk factor for premature death and disability.

For populations 50 and older, cancers accounted for a large proportion of alcohol-related deaths, 27.1 percent for females and 18.9 percent for males.

In this age group, the leading causes of alcohol-related deaths included tuberculosis, road injuries, and self-harm.

The top 10 heaviest-drinking countries are all in Europe, with Romania leading the pack at an average 8.2 daily drinks among all men, and an astounding 12 drinks per day among men ages 45 to 59.

Any protection against heart disease, stroke and diabetes offered by alcohol turned out to be "not statistically significant", said the researchers.

"There is a compelling and urgent need to overhaul policies to encourage either lowering people's levels of alcohol consumption or abstaining entirely", Dr. Emmanuela Gakidou of the University of Washington, senior author of the work, explains. But those who had two drinks per day had a risk 7% higher than non-drinkers. But this benefit was outweighed by the health risks of alcohol.

The researchers calculated that people who have one standard drink (10 grams of pure alcohol) a day have a 0.5 percent higher risk of one of 23 alcohol-related health problems than teetotalers.

Globally, one in three people (32.5%) drink alcohol - equivalent to 2.4 billion people - including 25% of women (0.9 billion women) and 39% of men (1.5 billion men).

Overall, alcohol is linked to 2.8 million deaths each year worldwide, the study found.

They estimate that consuming just one drink per day increases the risk of developing one of 23 alcohol-related health problems by 0.5 per cent, compared with not drinking at all.

University of Cambridge epidemiologist Steven Bell co-authored aseparate study published in April in The Lancet that found drinking isbeneficial in lowering the risk for heart attack.

When accounting for relative risk of drinking, researchers found that any alcohol consumption increased these risk factors and emphasized that the safest amount of alcohol is no alcohol.

"The take-home message being that people shouldn't drink under the belief that it will lower their risk of disease", he said, "and those of us who opt to drink should minimize our intake if we wish to prolong our life and well-being".

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