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Drinking more alcohol than guidelines risks life expectancy

Friday April 13th, 2018

Drinking more alcohol than the recommended UK guidelines could reduce life expectancy by up to five years, according to a new analysis.

The study carried out by the University of Cambridge, UK, and published in The Lancet, shows that drinking more alcohol is associated with a higher risk of stroke, fatal aneurysm, heart failure and death, thus challenging the belief that moderate drinking is beneficial to cardiovascular health.

The study compared the health and drinking habits of about 600,000 drinkers in 19 countries worldwide and controlled for age, smoking, history of diabetes, level of education and occupation.

The upper safe limit of drinking is about five drinks per week, which equates to about 100g of pure alcohol, 12.5 units or just over five pints of 4% ABV beer or five 175ml glasses of 13% ABV wine.

The researchers found that having 10 or more drinks per week was linked with 1-2 years shorter life expectancy, while taking 18 drinks or more per week was linked with 4-5 years shorter life expectancy.

Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, which part funded the study, said: “This is a serious wake-up call for many countries.”

The researchers also found that alcohol consumption was associated with a higher risk of stroke, heart failure, fatal aortic aneurysms, fatal hypertensive disease and heart failure. It was also associated with a slightly lower risk of non-fatal heart attacks.

Dr Angela Wood, from the University of Cambridge, lead author of the study said: “The key message of this research is that, if you already drink alcohol, drinking less may help you live longer and lower your risk of several cardiovascular conditions.”

Victoria Taylor, senior dietician at the British Heart Foundation, added: “This powerful study may make sobering reading for countries that have set their recommendations at higher levels than the UK, but this does seem to broadly reinforce government guidelines for the UK.

“This doesn’t mean we should rest on our laurels, many people in the UK regularly drink over what’s recommended. We should always remember that alcohol guidelines should act as a limit, not a target, and try to drink well below this threshold.”

Lancet 13 April 2018

Tags: Drug & Alcohol Abuse | General Health | UK News

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