Researchers Say That No Amount of Alcohol Is Safe
How much can you drink without putting your health at risk? It depends on whom you ask. However, according to the latest research, no amount of alcohol is safe. A new stud reveals that alcohol at all levels can have damaging health implications.
A 26-Year Study on the Safety of Alcohol
An extensive study published in the medical journal, The Lancet, revealed that close to 3 million people around the world died from alcohol use in 2016. The senior author of the study, Dr. Emmanuela Gakidou of the University of Washington, believes that even light drinking is strongly linked to a shortened life expectancy.
The project was part of the annual Global Burden of Disease Study, a comprehensive research program that assesses mortality according to disease, injury and health risks. The study involved 600,000 participants in 195 countries and territories. It is the largest body of evidence collected to date.
Based on the researchers’ findings, Gakidou advises cutting alcohol consumption all the way down to zero. Having just one standard drink a day, the equivalent of 100 grams of alcohol per week, appears to increase the risk of death from a variety of causes.
More than 500 researchers concluded that 23 negative health outcomes could be attributed to alcohol use. They include the following:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Several types of cancer
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Lower-respiratory infections
- DUI-related death
- Accidental death from poisoning, drowning and other unintentional injuries
- Homicide or manslaughter
- Accidental overdose
Shattering the Myths Surrounding Alcohol
The findings are in stark contrast to what scientists, governmental agencies and medical professionals have been telling us for decades: that drinking moderately won’t hurt you and may even help you. In some studies, moderate drinkers were found to live slightly longer. It was a happy day for imbibers everywhere when it was declared that having a few drinks throughout the week prevented cardiovascular problems.
That wasn’t entirely accurate. Although alcohol use seems to reduce the risk of nonfatal heart attack, the risk for stroke, heart failure and aortic aneurysm is significantly higher for drinkers.
What accounts for the discrepancies between results of previous studies and the latest one?
For one thing, past studies were straight-up comparisons of moderate drinkers to nondrinkers. The overall health of the participants was not taken into consideration. Lifestyle, race, socioeconomic level and other relevant factors were not part of the studies. The nondrinkers could have simply been unhealthier. For all anyone knew, they might have only recently stopped drinking.
Studies of what is known as the French paradox in the ‘80s and ‘90s also resulted in misconceptions. Scientists couldn’t help but wonder why the French, who traditionally haven’t worried much about their diets being rich in saturated fat, have surprisingly low rates of cardiovascular disease. Many researchers decided that wine, particularly red wine, was the magical potion; the French consume far more wine per capita than citizens of most other countries. Word got out, and people around the world started pouring the claret and toasting to better heart health.
However, there are many factors that the French paradox studies didn’t take into account. They may love their butter, but overall, the French eat very well. The traditional Mediterranean diet consists largely of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and small portions of poultry or fish. French people tend to be active. Thanks to strict laws governing the workweek and mandatory vacations, their stress levels are lower. All those factors affect cardiovascular health.
For many reasons — not least of which is that much of the research in years past was funded by the alcohol industry — the old science is now considered flawed.
The GBD study didn’t involve nondrinkers. Instead, it compared light, moderate and heavy drinkers and considered many more factors. Gadikou and her fellow researchers believe there is conclusive evidence that drinking to boost heart health is a bad idea. John F. Kelly, an addiction researcher at Harvard University Medical School, likes to remind everyone that the World Health Organization designated alcohol as a Group 1 carcinogen way back in 1988.
The scientists who worked on this project are being as vocal as they can to shatter the myths.
If You’re at Risk for Addiction, No Amount of Alcohol Is Safe
No one deliberately chooses to become addicted, and no one is immune from this insidious brain disease.
Maybe you took your very first drink to fit in at a high school party and your confidence soared. Maybe you found that alcohol made you feel less lonely. Perhaps you discovered that drinking made a rocky marriage easier to bear or dulled painful memories of sexual abuse. Now, life is spiraling out of control.
We at Springboard Recovery can teach you better ways of coping with depression, anxiety and stress. If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol, call us today.
Start your journey to recovery and better health today.
- World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/news/item/21-09-2018-harmful-use-of-alcohol-kills-more-than-3-million-people-each-year–most-of-them-men#:~:text=More%20than%203%20million%20people%20died%20as%20a%20result%20of,these%20deaths%20were%20among%20men.
- MedlinePlus: https://medlineplus.gov/diabetes.html#:~:text=Diabetes%20is%20a%20disease%20in,body%20does%20not%20make%20insulin.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-health/overview-alcohol-consumption
- The Conversation: https://theconversation.com/the-french-paradox-turned-out-to-be-an-illusion-but-it-led-to-some-interesting-research-78196
- World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/health-topics/alcohol#tab=tab_1
- American Psychiatric Association: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/addiction/what-is-addiction