Regular excess drinking can take years off your life, study finds

A man drinking beer

Five pints a week can take its toll Dominic Lipinski PA Wire

As a result, scientists found that alcohol can not be considered healthy. The researchers collected 83 individual studies from 1964 up to 2010, including one from Erasmus MC.

The worldwide team of researchers analyzed almost 600,000 people aged 30-100 from 19 different countries as part of 80 different studies.

Authors of the Lancet study said their findings backed up the new guidelines and also said they did not find an increased risk of death for light drinkers.

The Australian guidelines published in 2009 are nearly a decade old and recommend "healthy men and women" drink no more than two standard drinks on any day to reduce the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury.

People who do not drink at all can have worse health, also - something that can confuse consumers and doctors alike.

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It's official, everyone: We're drinking too much booze and it's cutting us short of precious life.

Previous studies have suggested that drinking red wine can be good for our hearts, although some scientists have suggested these benefits may be overhyped. But this study also suggests that whatever level you drink at, even if it's under the guidelines, drinking even less will help reduce your health risks. They were followed for years afterward. Having 18 drinks or more per week was linked with four to five years shorter life expectancy. For example, USA guidelines recommend that men drink no more than 196 grams (7 ounces) per week, or 14 standard drinks. Part-funded by the British Heart Foundation, the study shows that drinking more alcohol is associated with a higher risk of stroke, fatal aneurysm, heart failure and death. But the study found a striking linear relationship between alcohol intake and dying from any cause.

"This study provides clear evidence to support lowering the recommended limits of alcohol consumption in many countries around the world", co-author Professor Edoardo Casiglia said in the conclusion of the report.

Notably, the heavier drinkers were less likely to have a heart attack.

Anything more than six glasses is associated with a higher risk of stroke, coronary disease, heart failure and hypertension, according to the study.

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Lead author Dr. Angela Wood, a senior lecturer at the University of Cambridge said, 'The key message of this research is that, if you already drink alcohol, drinking less may help you live longer and lower your risk of several cardiovascular conditions'.

The findings dovetail with recent research showing that even low levels of alcohol raise the risk of cancer, particularly breast and colon cancer.

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. Virtually every researcher working on the study has ties to industry.

Dr Dan G Blazer, co-author, at Duke University in the United States, says doctors and other healthcare professionals must transmit this message to their patients.

Researchers relied on what participants reported drinking at the start, recognizing that many people may be lowballing how much they actually down.

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