According to a major study on drinking in 195 nations that attributes 2.8 million premature deaths worldwide each year to alcohol, there is no safe level of alcohol. Even an occasional glass of wine or beer increases the risk of health problems and death, the study said.
“There is no safe level of alcohol,” said Max Griswold, a researcher at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle, Washington and lead author for a consortium of more than 500 experts.
Despite recent research showing that light-to-moderate drinking reduces heart disease, the new study found that alcohol use is more likely than not to do harm.
Griswold summarising the results, published in medical journal The Lancet on Friday said: “The protective effect of alcohol was offset by the risks.
“Overall, the health risks associated with alcohol rose in line with the amount consumed each day.”
According to the researchers, taking one “standard drink” — 10 grammes of alcohol, equivalent to a small beer, glass of wine or shot of spirits — per day, for example, ups the odds of developing at least one of two dozen health problems by about half-a-percent.
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Overall, drinking was the seventh leading risk factor for premature death and disease in 2016, accounting for just over two percent of deaths in women and nearly seven percent in men.
The top six killers are high blood pressure, smoking, low-birth weight and premature delivery, high blood sugar (diabetes), obesity and pollution.