Tuesday, 28 August 2018

How Much Alcohol Is Safe? None, Say These

Alcohol Is Safe to Drink

How Much Alcohol Is Safe to Drink? None, Say These Researchers

Just one alcoholic drink each day slightly increases an individual’s risk for health problems, according to an outsized new study.

No level of alcohol consumption conferred any health benefits, the authors also concluded — a finding that runs contrary to much previous research and public health guidelines in many countries.

The analysis, involving 195 countries and territories from 1990 to 2016, relied on 694 sources of knowledge and analyzed 592 studies to work out the health risks of alcohol use.

While the study is among the most important of its kind, it had been also observational, linking population-wide consumption to population-wide trends.

The methods left many experts unconvinced.

Online in Medium, David Spiegelhalter, a statistician at Cambridge University in England wrote of the study’s conclusion: “Claiming there's no ‘safe’ the level doesn't seem an argument for abstention.

There's no safe level of driving, but governments don't recommend that folks avoid driving.”

The researchers relied on sales data and surveys to estimate the prevalence of drinking in each country and calculated alcohol consumption in standard drinks daily defined as 10 grams, or about one-third of an oz, of pure ethyl alcohol — the equivalent of three.

4 ounces of wine at 13 percent alcohol, 12 ounces of beer at 3.5 percent alcohol or one ounce of 80-proof whiskey.

They also devised a way for distinguishing alcohol consumption among tourists from that of resident populations, and linked consumption data to 23 health outcomes, ranging from car accidents, suicides, and tuberculosis, to liver cirrhosis, cardiovascular disease, and cancers.

In 2016, 25 percent of girls and 39 percent of men were current drinkers — about 2.4 billion people worldwide.

Women consumed a mean of 0.73 drinks each day, while men had 1.7 drinks.

Rates of alcohol consumption vary widely by country but generally the upper a country’s income level, the upper the prevalence of drinking.

The study, published within the Lancet, concluded that alcohol consumption is involved in 2.8 million deaths annually worldwide, making it the seventh leading risk factor for death and disability.

Among people aged 15 to 49, alcohol use is that the single commonest risk factor for death and disability.

In 2016, alcohol accounted for six .8 percent of males and a couple of .2 percent of female deaths.

“The main difference between alcohol and smoking is that nobody is surprised that smoking is bad,” said the lead author, Emmanuela Gakidou, a professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington.

“But there are tons of surprises, even among experts, that alcohol is as bad for you because it is.”

Many studies and most health guidelines suggest that moderate drinking — one or two drinks each day — is safe and should even reduce the danger of heart condition, stroke, or diabetes.

But Dr. Gakidou and her colleagues found that only one drink each day for one year increases alcohol-related health problems slightly, to 918 per 100,000 people from 914 per 100,000.

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