When to say when: Study says limit alcohol to 1 drink a day
This week several news outlets, including the Washington Post, reported that a new international study concludes there are “no overall health benefits from moderate drinking” and the “threshold for low-risk drinking … is about seven beers a week for men and women alike.”
The study was published on April 12 in The Lancet and was co-authored by 120 researchers based on “aggregated data from multiple studies of drinking patterns and health outcomes among nearly 600,000 people in 19 high-income countries.”
The Post says, “Strikingly, the data did not show a significant difference between men and women in the amount of alcohol that can be consumed without a drop in life expectancy” – a conclusion that contradicts US government guidelines.
USA Today reported that the US Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s guidelines “allow for drinking in moderation,” which, for men “means up to two drinks per day, or roughly 196 grams per week – nearly double what researchers suggest” in this study. For women, the guidelines say just “one drink per day, which is 98 grams per week.” Spain, Portugal, and Italy also have government recommended guidelines nearly 50 percent higher than the 100-gram threshold shown in this study.
The AP reported that the research “estimates that 40-year-old men who drink as much as the current U.S. guidelines allow can expect to live one to two years less than men who have no more than seven drinks per week.” The study found a “higher risk of stroke, heart failure, and other problems” among those who drink more than the study’s recommendation of about seven beers per week – or five glasses of wine or 1.5-ounce shots of liquor.
PBS NewsHour reported that the study suggests that “people who drank more than 100 grams of alcohol per week, the equivalent of about six glasses of wine, had increased risk of stroke, heart disease, heart failure, fatal hypertensive disease and fatal aortic aneurysm.”
What do you think?