The researchers said their main finding was that the lowest risk for avoiding harm from alcohol was found in people drinking no more than 100g, or 12.5 units, of alcohol a week. And when you bump that number up to 18 drinks a week, you're looking at losing four to five years off your life.
The CDC has defined moderate drinking as having one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men, but a new study suggests that any more than one per day can lead to a shorter life span.
We won't bore you with the math it takes to figure out how many units of alcohol are in your drink, but instead, provide this handy guide that shows that on average, a glass of red wine has two units of alcohol while white wine has three.
The authors note that the different relationships between alcohol intake and various types of cardiovascular disease can be explained, at least in part, by the effect of alcohol consumption on elevated blood pressure and on factors related to lipoprotein cholesterol.
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The research, which analyzed data from almost 600,000 people in 19 countries, found that drinking more than 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of alcohol per week (the equivalent of about seven standard drinks in the United States) was linked to an increased risk of early death during the study period.
By contrast, alcohol consumption was associated with a slightly lower risk of non-fatal heart attacks.
Professor Bu Yeap, a health researcher at the University of WA says that the bottom line from this study is that "less is probably better".
The Daily Telegraph wrote: "Six glasses of wine a week is too much despite government guidelines suggesting it is a safe limit".
A sweeping global study of alcohol consumption has found no overall health benefits from moderate drinking and calls into question the U.S. guidelines that say men can safely drink twice as much as women.
"The data make it even clearer that the alcohol industry is promoting a misleading view that alcohol use is benign", he says.
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It was funded by the UK Medical Research Council, British Heart Foundation, National Institute for Health Research in the UK, European Union and European Research Council. It relied on self-reported drinking habits, and didn't take into account the effect of alcohol over the course of a person's life, for example.
"This is a serious wakeup call for many countries".
British guidelines were like the USA standards until two years ago, when United Kingdom health officials brought the recommendation for men down to the level for women.
While the US government now recommends no more than seven drinks a week for women, the recommendation for men is 14 drinks.
There are some health benefits to be gained from drinking moderate amounts of alcohol, but science cautions that it will start negatively affecting your health past a certain threshold.
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