Health Care

'Moderate' drinking guidelines are too loose, study says

'Moderate' drinking guidelines are too loose, study says

The study analysed 599,912 current drinkers in 19 countries, none of whom had a known history of cardiovascular disease, and found an increase in all causes of death when more than 100g of alcohol was consumed every week. Those limits are based on earlier studies that found women are more affected by alcohol than men.

Just one alcoholic drink a day could reduce your life expectancy by six months, a major global study has found.

A huge worldwide study has found that adults should not drink more than, on average, one alcoholic drink a day.

In Canada, it's recommended women drink a maximum of two glasses of beer or wine per day.

The researchers also note that the varying nature of alcohol guidelines from country to country makes the study's implications particularly impactful.

The report therefore concluded that the recommended weekly limit for consumption be standardised across different countries at that level for both men and women.

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

The study was carried out by researchers at the University of Cambridge and was published in The Lancet journal. The researchers collected 83 individual studies from 1964 up to 2010, including one from Erasmus MC. In fact, over-drinking could be as bad for your health as many years of smoking.

Professor Tim Chico, of the University of Sheffield, added: "I would not be surprised if the heaviest drinkers lost as many years of life as a smoker".

The National Health and Medical Research Council says the Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol 2009 are now under review. It considered about 600,000 people who drank alcohol. However, risk of non-fatal heart attacks dipped with more alcohol. Drinking increases the risk of stroke, heart failure, high blood pressure and a rupture in the aorta.

Victoria Taylor, Senior Dietician at the British Heart Foundation said: "This powerful study may make sobering reading for countries that have set their recommendations at higher levels than the United Kingdom, but this does seem to broadly reinforce government guidelines for the UK".

"The paper estimates a 40-year-old drinking four units a day above the guidelines has roughly two years lower life expectancy", said David Spiegelhalter, a risk expert at Britain's University of Cambridge who was not involved in the study. Alcohol drinking is linked to strokes, heart failure, and fatal aneurysm.

A spokesman for the Portman Group, the social responsibility body for alcohol producers in the United Kingdom, said: "Official statistics show that the vast majority (76%) chose not to drink or drink within guidelines, which are among the lowest in Europe".

Although the pool of data was extensive, information about alcohol consumption was self-reported, so the study's findings are limited. Public health advocates have criticized the Moderate Alcohol and Cardiovascular Health (MACH15) study in part because starting in 2013, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism solicited donations from the world's biggest alcohol producers, according to the New York Times, to fund the $100 million study-a project equal to a quarter of the agency's annual budget.