A drink a day could be deadly, study finds

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A new global study suggests that the recommended limits for drinking alcohol are too high in Canada and many other countries.

The study found an increase in all causes of death among those who consumed more than 100 grams of alcohol per week, supporting calls to reduce alcohol consumption limits.

Drinking over this limit can shorten the life expectancy.

Current Irish guidelines recommend a limit of 170g pure alcohol (17 standard drinks) per week for men and 110g pure alcohol (11 standard drinks) for women.

Just think how easy it is to sink six pints of nice, cold lager on a hot summer's day, or to work your way through a few glasses of wine after a long day.

That's because earlier studies found women are hit by the effects of alcohol at lower amounts than men for several reasons, including women weigh less than men on average and blood alcohol concentrations rise faster. They include Italy, Portugal and Spain as well as the United States, where for men the recommended limit is nearly double.

Researchers in a 2016 study from Stanford said "that what constitutes a "standard drink" in each country is far from standard", yet "in many cases these guidelines are adopted as public health policy and even printed onto alcoholic beverages without knowing whether people read them, understand them or change their behavior as a result".

He also noted it was important to remember the study focussed on mortality rates, not quality of life.

On average, each unit of alcohol that exceeds the 100-gram limit slices off 15 minutes of a person's life - about the same as a cigarette, said David Spiegelhalter, a professor at the University of Cambridge, in a comment on the report.

The study was funded by the BHF, UK Medical Research Council, National Institute for Health Research, European Union Framework 7 and European Research Council.

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But recent research has suggested that Americans need to reassess how much they drink.

The findings challenge the widely held belief that moderate drinking is beneficial to cardiovascular health, and support the UK's recently lowered guidelines.

Drinking more than 100 grams of alcohol per week was linked with a lower life expectancy.

The study found that on average, drinking the equivalent of 10 pints of beer or glasses of wine each week was linked with one to two years shorter life expectancy. This slightly lower risk of heart attack tied to alcohol consumption must be balanced against the other "serious, and potentially fatal, cardiovascular diseases" linked with alcohol consumption, lead study author Dr. Angela Wood, a lecturer in biostatistics at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, said in the statement.

"Guideline developers tend to recognize that, in line with many other voluntary behaviors, drinkers are likely to be willing to accept some level of risk and have set guideline thresholds accordingly", she said.

These limits are lower than the levels for many other countries, but this latest study suggests they are about right.

It's official, everyone: We're drinking too much booze, and it's cutting us short of precious life. More than that raises the risk of stroke, fatal aneurysm (a ruptured artery in the chest), heart failure and death.

As for the threshold for low-risk drinking, White said, "there's no magic number here".

Estimated future years of life lost by extent of reported baseline alcohol consumption compared with those who reported consuming 0-≤100 g per week. During the following weeks volunteers each week used from 100 ml of alcohol.

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