Drinking? Years Off Life If You Have an Extra, Study Says

The recommended alcohol limit in Italy and Spain is almost 50 per cent higher than in the UK

The recommended alcohol limit in Italy and Spain is almost 50 per cent higher than in the UK

Researchers gathered data from 83 studies, starting between 1964 and 2010, that had information about drinkers who didn't have cardiovascular disease at the start of the study, their level of alcohol consumption and additional health data, and that followed up the participants. But for those who do, the US Department of Agriculture's Dietary Guidelines recommend women limit their consumption to no more than one drink per day (98 grams per week) and men to two daily drinks (196 grams per week).

Recommended drinking limits in the United States are now 98 grams for women and double for men - at two drinks per day - while limits in Italy, Spain and Portugal are nearly 50% higher.

Tim Chico, professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Sheffield, reckons the study is proof that drinking lots and getting away with it is "too good to be true".

In Canada, it's recommended women drink a maximum of two glasses of beer or wine per day.

Added Tim Chico, professor of cardiovascular medicine and honorary consultant cardiologist at the University of Sheffield, "It is hard to accurately estimate the risks of alcohol to health, but the large size and design of this study make its findings both reliable and applicable to countries around the world".

The report therefore concluded that the recommended weekly limit for consumption be standardised across different countries at that level for both men and women. The study's findings are in line with new recommendations for safe drinking in the United Kingdom, which recommend no more than six standard U.K. drinks a week for men and women.

The lead author of this study, which was part funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) Dr. Angela Wood explained "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".

He also noted it was important to remember the study focussed on mortality rates, not quality of life.

'It's as if each unit above guidelines is taking, on average, 15 minutes of life - about the same as a cigarette, ' said David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge. There's variation from country to country as to how many grams of alcohol are generally found in a standard drink. For example, having 10 or more drinks per week was linked with one to two years shorter life expectancy.

You could be taking years off your life by regularly drinking more than the advised United Kingdom guidelines for alcohol, according to new research from an worldwide team.

That interpretation is not likely to be welcomed by the alcohol industry, which has embraced the idea, backed by the medical establishment, that moderate drinking may be good for you by lowering the risk of a heart attack.

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

These limits are lower than the levels for many other countries, but this latest study suggests they are about right.

The global study, part-funded by the British Heart Foundation, also looked at the association between alcohol and different types of cardiovascular disease.

"Higher alcohol consumption is associated with lower risk of heart attack, but higher risk of stroke, heart failure and other heart events".

Very light drinking seemed to have a small protective effect against non-fatal heart attacks. The study involved almost 600 thousand people who each week used from 100 to 350 ml of alcohol, reports the Chronicle.info with reference to Browser.

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