Regular Drinking To Excess Could Take Years Off Your Life, Says Study

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The new study estimates that 40-year-old men who drink as much as the current USA guidelines allow can expect to live one to two years less than men who have no more than seven drinks per week.

The study found that people who down more than seven drinks a week can expect to die sooner than those who drink less.

The data show the similar result of men and women in the amount of alcohol consumption.

Guidelines from the CDC say that women can drink up to one alcoholic beverage a day while men can drink up to two. The safe lower limit is 5 glasses per week. They were followed for years afterward.

Nutrition professor Jaap Seidell is pleased with the new study, he said to the Volkskrant.

"An important message from this study is that optimal life expectancy is associated with a relatively low level of alcohol consumption - less than 100 grams per week - and that higher levels of consumption increase mortality risk", Professor Yeap said.

"These figures are in line with the UK Chief Medical Officer's guidance and support previous studies which show that the lifetime risk from many cardiovascular diseases for most people who are moderate drinkers is lower than for those who drink heavily, or don't drink at all".

The heavier drinkers were also less likely to have a heart attack, the study found.

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Wood and her colleagues did not find an overall health benefit.

The research contradicts other commonly held notions that drinking in moderation is good for your heart. The common explanation is that alcohol can boost high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, the "good" cholesterol, which can be protective against arterial blockages.

The researchers also looked at the association between alcohol consumption and different types of cardiovascular disease.

The study's researchers also found that drinking increased the risk of cardiovascular illness, with every 12.5 units over the guidelines raising the risk of a stroke by 14 percent, fatal hypertensive disease by 24 percent, heart failure by nine percent and fatal aortic aneurysm by 15 percent. Above this, there was increased risk of both heart attack and heart disease.

The researchers noted that the study tracked people's alcohol consumption for at least a year but did not examine the effect of alcohol consumption over a person's entire lifetime.

About half the participants reported drinking more than 100g per week, and 8.4% drank more than 350g per week. "The effects are influenced by a wide range of factors, like body weight and sex, medications, rate of consumption, so it's very hard to arrive at one single threshold below which everybody's going to be safe from harm". Instead, a little bit too much causes a little lower life expectancy.

However, the studies analysed were all observational studies, as it wouldn't be ethical to carry out studies where some people were encouraged to drink an unhealthy amount of alcohol.

An analysis of almost 600,000 people found those drinking more than 100g of alcohol every week - around five 175ml glasses of wine or pints of beer - were at an increased risk of early death.