One drink is considered 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.1 ounces of 80 proof spirits.
Even moderate drinking can increase the risk of cancer and other diseases, according to the research released yesterday, which points to abstinence as the only safe course of action.
Researchers at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle looked at the effects of alcohol consumption on research participants aged between 15 and 95 in 195 countries from 1990 through 2016. In 2016 alone, alcohol consumption was responsible for 2.8 million deaths worldwide, reports The Guardian.
They also included an analysis of 23 health outcomes associated with alcohol use, including cardiovascular disease; certain cancers; noncommunicable diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver, alcohol use disorders and pancreatitis, communicable disease such as tuberculosis, intentional and unintentional injuries and transportation-related injuries.
But the new paper, published Thursday in The Lancet, calls that long-held conclusion into question.
Protective effects were found for ischaemic heart disease and diabetes in women, but weren’t enough to overrule the overall health risk of alcohol.
With two drinks a day, the chance of experiencing health problems increased to 7 percent compared to non-drinkers. “Our results indicate that alcohol use and its harmful effects on health could become a growing challenge as countries become more developed, and enacting or maintaining strong alcohol control policies will be vital”. They found that the modest improvements in heart health associated with light drinking are more than offset by the increased risk of other conditions including breast cancer and cancer of the larynx, as well as violence and vehicle accidents. In people age 50 and older, cancers were a leading cause of alcohol-related death, accounting for about 27 percent of deaths in women and 19 percent of deaths in men.
Currently, New Zealand’s Ministry of Health guidelines recommend that men drink no more than three standard units a day and no more than 15 standard units a week.
Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, professor and surgeon at Tata Memorial Hospital, which is among the contributors to The Lancet report, said that the consumption of alcohol was steadily increasing in India. The U.K. government made a similar recommendation in 2016. Denmark led the list for most drinkers (97 percent of men and 95 percent of women), while Romania (men) and Ukraine (women) had the heaviest drinkers.
The statement that the “level of consumption that minimises health loss is zero” doesn’t leave much to interpretation. Women aged 45 to 64 are the most likely of any age group to drink, separate figures show.
Previous research suggested that moderate levels of alcohol – around one drink a day for women and two for men – may protect against heart disease.
The researchers reviewed data from 694 studies to figure out how common drinking was around the world.
Men in Ireland have around four-and-a-half beverages a day but do not make it into the top 10 list for male drinkers globally.