Irish women having three alcoholic drinks a day

This obviously isn't great news to hear with the weekend on the horizon, but if you're doing your best to be health-conscious it might be a good idea to skip the bar and find something else to do.

The researchers claimed there is "no safe level" for drinking - and that even one drink a day increases risk of ill health. The researchers from the University of Washington say alcohol leads to 2.8 million deaths a year, and it is the leading risk factor for premature mortality and disability in the 15 to 49 age group, accounting for a whopping 20% of deaths.

But the study, led by the University of Washington, said: 'Any health benefits of alcohol are outweighed by adverse effects'. The authors also used updated and more robust statistical review models to analyze alcohol consumption and the health problems associated with it.

Among the many findings, the research showed that drinking alcohol was the seventh leading risk factor for premature death and disease in 2016.

Ultimately, there is no "safe" level of alcohol consumption was the upshot.

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However, it's hard to estimate the risks for a person who drinks fairly infrequently - such as someone who has one drink every two weeks - so the findings might not necessarily apply to this population.

Countries in Europe, particularly in Scandinavia, had the highest prevalence of people who said they now drank, while Middle Eastern nations dominated the list of countries with lowest prevalence, likely owing to alcohol's prohibition within the Islamic faith. "People should no longer think that a drink or two a day is good for you". The study compiled data from almost 700 other surveys and research efforts to draw a more comprehensive picture of the effects of alcohol consumption and, well, it's not looking good.

The researchers drew on more than 1,000 studies to compile a picture of alcohol's health impacts and drinking habits among men and women around the world.

The fact that both Bangladesh and Pakistan are strictly Muslim countries where alcohol is illegal appears not to register. Tuberculosis is very rare in the U.S.

The countries with the highest percentage of men and women who reported drinking in the previous year were Denmark, Norway and Germany.

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The risk climbs in a steep "J-curve", the study found.

The relative risk associated with drinking begins at under 1% and then increases marginally with each 10g of alcohol (one drink) consumed.

"The take-home message being that people shouldn't drink under the belief that it will lower their risk of disease", he said, "and those of us who opt to drink should minimize our intake if we wish to prolong our life and well-being". Diageo has also acquired a minority stake in Seedlip, an alcohol-free drink that aims to deliver the depth of flavor and mouthfeel of a high-end spirit.

Of the more than 2 billion people around the world consume alcohol, about 63 percent are men, the researchers wrote. It's clear, he says, that drinking comes with health risks, and far less clear that it comes with any benefits.

Driving, especially driving for pleasure or sport, carries a measure of risk but no one would advocate for banning all driving as a result.

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The full study in The Lancet can be read here.

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