In the past, some studies focused on the possible health benefits of drinking alcohol in moderation, stating moderate drinking could protect against heart disease. But this new study looked at a range of factors and concluded that any possible benefits were heavily outweighed by the risks.
BBC News reported that the authors of the study looked at data from 28 million people around the world and determined that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption.
Researchers compared data from people aged 15 to 95 and compared people who didn’t drink at all with those who had at least one alcoholic drink a day. Out of 100,000 non-drinkers, they found that 914 would develop some kind of alcohol-related illness or suffer from an injury. And four more people would be affected if they had one drink a day.
The study, which was published in The Lancet, also points out that worldwide, alcohol is associated with 2.8 million deaths a year. Professor Sonia Saxena, one of the study authors, said, “One drink a day does represent a small increased risk but adjust that to the UK population and it represents a far bigger number, and most people are not drinking just one drink a day.” And Dr. Max Griswold, the lead author of the study said, “Previous studies have found a protective effect of alcohol on some conditions, but we found that the combined health risks associated with alcohol increase with any amount of alcohol. The strong association between alcohol consumption and the risk of cancer, injuries, and infectious diseases offset the protective effects for heart disease in our study.”
Along with these findings, this study also showed that alcohol consumption was the seventh leading risk factor for premature death in 2016.
The authors also point out that previous studies that looked at the health benefits of alcohol have several limitations. Those studies often relied on participants self-reporting their alcohol use, which is subject to human error. Some studies relied on alcohol sales data but that information can’t give reliable data about actual alcohol use.
This new study combined alcohol sales data with the prevalence of drinking and abstinence, tourism data, self-reported data, and estimates of illicit trade and home brewing.
Drinking alcohol regularly can lead to health problems such as liver damage or cancer and binge drinking can cause alcohol poisoning. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, approximately 88,000 people die from alcohol-related issues every year in the United States making alcohol the third leading cause of preventable death in the nation.