Study: No alcohol level is “safe”

Global study on alcohol consumption

Bad news for beer lovers, wine lovers, and those who like a wee dram of whisky and other spirits, even moderation is apparently not ok.

The study was published today in the British medical journal The Lancet, and, said that basically there was no such thing as a “safe” level of alcohol consumption.

The study indicated there were about 3 million deaths globally that were attributed to alcohol use. Additionally, of the deaths of males between the ages of 15 and 49, some 12 per cent were related to alcohol.

Dr. Emmanuela Gakidou of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington is senior author of the study.  Quoted in Science Daily she said, “Our findings are consistent with other recent research, which found clear and convincing correlations between drinking and premature death, cancer, and cardiovascular problems. Zero alcohol consumption minimizes the overall risk of health loss.”


The study looked at alcohol-related health issues in 195 countries between 1990 and 2016, along with consumption patterns.

It compared date from age 15-95 year-olds, and those who didn’t drink with those who had one drink a day.

Of note is that different countries have different ideas on what constitutes a “standard” drink when setting health guidelines.

In Canada it is considered to be 13.5 grams of alcohol, or the equivalent of 345ml (12oz) bottle of 5% alcohol beer, 142ml of 12% wind, or 43 ml (1.5-oz) of liquor like whisky, rum, gin etc.

In the U.K a “standard” drink is considered as 8 grams of alcohol, whereas in Australia it is 10-gm, in the U.S, 14-gm, and Japan 20-gm.

“The myth that one or two drinks a day are good for you is just that — a myth. This study shatters that myth”,  Dr Gakidou

Out of 100,000 who had one drink a day, 914 would develop cancer or suffer and injury.

Of those who had two drinks a day, 63 more would develop an alcohol related problem within a year, and that number would increase by 338 more for those having 5 drinks a day.

Quoted in the BBC, lead author Dr Max Griswold, at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), University of Washington, said: “Previous studies have found a protective effect of alcohol on some conditions, but we found that the combined health risks associated with alcohol increases with any amount of alcohol”.

He went on to clarify that the study shows the risks of problems outweign any protective heart disease benefits.

A Health Canada statement in 2015 said,  ”At least 3.1 million Canadians drank enough to be at risk for immediate injury and harm with at least 4.4 million at risk for chronic health effects, such as liver cirrhosis and various forms of cancer”.

Additional information – sources

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