No Amount of Alcohol Is Safe, Health Experts Warn

The majority of national guidelines suggest that one or two glasses of wine or beer per day are safe for an adult's health

What to Know

  • Alcohol consumption at all levels can have damaging health implications, according to a report in The Lancet
  • The research pours cold water on previous reports that said drinking in moderation could have health benefits
  • The report's researchers have called for global medical guidance to be revised

So much for a glass of wine a day for your health's sake — all alcohol consumption is bad for you, according to a damning report. 

The global study, which claims to be the most comprehensive of its kind, pours cold water on previous reports that espouse the protective effects of alcohol under some conditions. 

While researchers acknowledged that moderate drinking can protect against heart disease and diabetes, they said that the risks of cancer and other illnesses outweigh those benefits and have called for a change in medical guidance. 

"The widely held view of the health benefits of alcohol needs revising," said the report published in The Lancet medical journal. 

The majority of national guidelines suggest that one or two glasses of wine or beer per day are safe for an adult's health. However, the report's authors said, "Our results show that the safest level of drinking is none." 

The study, which was carried out by researchers at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle, looked at levels of alcohol use and its health effects on those aged between 15 and 95 in 195 countries between 1990 and 2016. 

It found that alcohol led to 2.8 million deaths in 2016 and was the leading risk factor for premature mortality and disability among those aged 15 to 49, accounting for 10 percent of all deaths. 

The greatest proportion of alcohol-related deaths among young people were tuberculosis, road injuries and self-harm, the report found. Meanwhile, for those aged over-50, the biggest killer was cancer, particularly among women.

Current drinking habits pose "dire ramifications for future population health," the reports authors said, urging people to rethink their approach to drinking alcohol.

The study claims to go beyond prior research because of the range of factors considered, including insights from 592 studies and 28 million people worldwide. 

It forms part of a wider Global Burden of Diseases study, a research project based at the University of Washington that compiles data on the causes of illness and death in the world.

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