A new study from the University of Cambridge suggests that even consuming one alcoholic drink per day can lower your life expectancy. That’s right – they found that 100 grams of alcohol per week, equivalent to about a drink a day – increases the risk of death from all causes.
A “standard drink” has about 14 grams of alcohol – so one beer, one glass of wine, or one shot of hard liquor. This is significant because current U.S. guidelines say that having one drink a day for women and two for men is fine… maybe even good for you. But this study is a stark reversal of those recommendations.
For this research, 83 different studies featuring over 600,000 participants across Europe were combined to create a broad picture of how alcohol consumption affects the body. The results show that 1-2 drinks per day are estimated to shorten the lifespan of a 40-year-old by six months. And those who have 3-4 drinks per day can expect to live 5 years fewer than those who don't.
The study was done primarily on Europeans, and you might be surprised to learn that most people in Europe drink more than Americans do. Americans drink 8.8 liters of alcohol annually per capita, which puts us well behind countries like Ireland, Germany, and Lithuania.
In fact, Lithuanians drink so much, the country just passed a bunch of new alcohol restrictions to try and keep teenagers from getting into the habit too early. But Americans – don’t feel too superior. We’re way out in front when it comes to opioid and cocaine abuse.
Okay, so what about all those studies that say that drinking alcohol, especially red wine, is good for you? Well, according to biostatistician Angela Wood, who led the study: "Alcohol consumption is associated with a slightly lower risk of non-fatal heart attacks, but this must be balanced against the higher risk associated with other serious – and potentially fatal – cardiovascular diseases." Those other serious issues include a higher risk of stroke, heart failure, fatal high blood pressure disease and fatal aortic aneurysm.
We’ve long known about the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption, but this is somewhat scarier because it’s maybe the first time a major study has been done showing that even moderate drinking is probably not good for you.
What do you guys think? Is this study going to make you cut back on your drinking? Let us know in the comments.
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