Over-drinking could take five years off your life, says study

Study reveals sobering news on how much you should be drinking

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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. Most of the coverage was accurate, although the i chose to focus on the fact that Italy, Portugal and Spain have recommended alcohol limits which are higher than the United Kingdom and describing the UK's as some of the "strictest in the world" - although it did go on to point out that the research supports these lower guidelines.

If a 40-year-old man dropped his intake from two drinks a day to around five drinks a week, he could expect to add an average of a year or two to his life, the researchers projected.

Still, the study had its limitations, including potential bias from self-reported survey data from people who about how much alcohol they drank, the authors said.

Earlier studies had found women feel the effects of alcohol much quicker than men for numerous reasons, including the average man weighing more than the average women.

In Australia, a standard drink is a 30ml nip of a spirit, a can of mid-strength beer or 100ml of wine (13.5% alcohol).

The researchers found a higher risk of stroke, heart failure and other problems in that group of heavier drinkers.

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Most Canadians drink alcohol and, as a country, we consume more than 50 per cent above the world average.

The bottom line: "Any supposed benefits in health should be balanced against that shortened life expectancy", Wood said.

He also noted it was important to remember the study focussed on mortality rates, not quality of life.

As statistics expert Professor David Spiegelhalter explained, the study "estimates that, compared to those who only drink a little, people who drink at the current United Kingdom guidelines suffer no overall harm in terms of death rates".

Nowcomes a huge study spearheaded by the UK's University of Cambridge published in The Lancet this week.

Many people can drink far more than that in a single day.

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Although the study did find that drinking alcohol was associated with a lower risk of non-fatal heart attacks, experts said that "on balance", drinking alcohol has no health benefits.

The study included data from 599,912 current drinkers and had access to their age, sex smoking status and other factors related to heart disease.

"The drinking levels recommended in this study will no doubt be described as implausible and impracticable by the alcohol industry and other opponents of public health warnings on alcohol". More than that raises the risk of stroke, fatal aneurysm (a ruptured artery in the chest), heart failure and death.

The researchers point out that there is no thresholds below which lower alcohol consumption stopped being associated with disease risk but that the threshold for lowest risk was 100g per week.

The study doesn't take into account the possibility of accompanying mental disorders, such as dementia, which could explain why people reduced their alcohol consumption over the follow-up period. During the following weeks volunteers each week used from 100 ml of alcohol.

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