Drinks a Week? US Alcohol Guidelines Should Be Lowered, Study Says

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

The study shows that 40-year old people who stick to the limit of five glasses a week could increase their life expectancy by up to two years. Finally, those who drank more than 350g a week shortened their lifespans by four to five years.

"This study makes clear that on balance there are no health benefits from drinking alcohol, which is usually the case when things sound too good to be true", said Tim Chico, professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Sheffield, who was not involved in the research.

Angela Wood, who is the lead author of the study and senior lecturer at the University of Cambridge told The Washington Post, "When the USA reviews their guidelines, I will hope they would use this as evidence to consider lowering the guidelines for men probably in line with female guidelines".

"This study has shown that drinking alcohol at levels which were believed to be safe is actually linked with lower life expectancy", as well as other health problems, study co-author Dr. Dan G. Blazer II, a professor emeritus of psychiatry at Duke University, said in a statement.

In 2016, the United Kingdom changed its national guidelines for alcohol consumption, reducing the recommended daily limit for alcohol.

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12 ounces of beer, four ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits is defined as a drink.

Dr Bartone said all studies showed there was no "safe level" of alcohol consumption, and European health agencies have always been advocating to keep drinking to a minimum, as it is a contributing factor to a number of cancers, liver disease and all forms of heart disease and stroke.

"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. That's because earlier studies found women are hit by the effects of alcohol at lower amounts than men for several reasons, including women weigh less than men on average and blood alcohol concentrations rise faster.

In many other countries, the guidelines for "safe" drinking are up to double the actual safe level, the researchers said. The CDC says more than 38 million American adults admit to binge-drinking once a week and guzzle an average of eight drinks per spree.

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The study included data from 600,000 participant across 19 countries.

A spokesman for industry body the Alcohol Information Partnership said: "This report confirms our view that moderate drinking does not pose a risk to most people".

"Excessive drinking for an extended period of time increases the risk of cardiovascular disease". Spain, Portugal and Italy, the study states, have recommended limits almost 50% higher than the 100-gram threshold.

Several Australian studies were part of this collaboration, contributing to the research and making the findings relevant to Australians.

Rao, visiting lecturer in old age psychiatry at King's College London, told The Guardian the study "highlights the need to reduce alcohol related harm in baby boomers, an age group now at highest risk of rising alcohol misuse".

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