Global study says no amount of alcohol is healthy

Global study says no amount of alcohol is healthy

How much alcohol consumption is healthy? A new research analysis of data from numerous sources suggests the answer is none.

“Alcohol use is a leading risk factor for global disease burden and causes substantial health loss. We found that the risk of all-cause mortality, and of cancers specifically, rises with increasing levels of consumption, and the level of consumption that minimizes health loss is zero,” researchers wrote in their report released Aug. 23, by the medical journal The Lancet.

The analysis counters often-touted studies that suggest possible health benefits of moderate drinking.

Researchers acknowledge that alcohol’s “overall association with health remains complex.” But any protective effects were “offset when overall health risks were considered,” the report said.

Alcohol remains a leading risk factor for death and disability across the globe, leading to 2–8 million deaths in 2016.

Leading risk factor

Among those 15–49, alcohol use was the leading risk factor for premature death and disability in 2016. Tuberculosis, road injuries and self-harm were the top causes of death. The risks were three times higher for men than women.

For those 50 years and older, cancers accounted for a large proportion of total alcohol-attributable deaths in 2016.

In May the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) also recommended eliminating alcohol use due to evidence that links alcohol consumption with cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, breast, stomach and colon.

The WCRF noted that some research suggests moderate drinking may have heart health benefits, but “for cancer prevention, it’s best not to drink alcohol.” (TAB)