Health Care

There is 'no safe level of alcohol,' says huge new global study

There is 'no safe level of alcohol,' says huge new global study

ANY benefits from drinking alcohol are outweighed by the harm - and going teetotal is the only way to avoid health problems, scientists claim. Among other conclusions, researchers found that drinking one alcoholic drink a day increases the risk of developing an alcohol-related health problem by 0.5 percent within a year compared to not drinking at all.

Imperial researchers are among a team of global scientists to suggest there is no safe level of alcohol - the health risks outweigh benefits.

The research found that alcohol led to 2.8 million deaths in 2016 alone and accounted for 10 percent of all deaths.

The uncompromising message comes from the authors of the Global Burden of Diseases study, a rolling project based at the University of Washington, in Seattle, which produces the most comprehensive data on the causes of illness and death in the world.

Till now, the highest proportion of alcohol-attributable mortality is in the Russian Federation and neighbouring countries, where every fifth death among men and six per cent of deaths among women are attributable to the harmful use of alcohol. The highest number of alcohol drinkers is in Denmark (95.3 per cent women and 97.1 per cent men) while the lowest are in Pakistan for men (0.8 per cent) and Bangladesh for women (0.3 per cent).

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The health risks likely only increase the more you drink, the study found.

Each year, 2.2% of women and 6.8% of men die from alcohol-related health problems including cancer, tuberculosis and liver disease.

The study analyzed information from almost 700 previous studies to estimate how common drinking alcohol is worldwide; and examined close to another 600 studies including a total of 28 million people to investigate the health risks tied to alcohol.

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"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".

The study, led by Dr Max Griswold from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, showed that in 2016 there were 990 alcohol-related deaths among women in Ireland. Men in Romania drank the most with eight drinks per day, while women in Ukraine drank the most with four.

Even moderate drinking can increase the risk of cancer and other diseases, according to the research released yesterday, which points to abstinence as the only safe course of action.

However, in terms of total numbers, Gakidou said, "most deaths from alcohol come from cardiovascular disease and cancers when you look at average consumption by age and sex within countries".

In terms of the overall findings, the report states that alcohol is linked to 2.8 million deaths worldwide each year and the authors suggest that there is no safe level of alcohol.

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"There's no safe level of riding a bike or driving a vehicle".