There Is No 'Safe' Level of Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol was also shown to be the leading risk factor of premature deaths and disability in the age group 15-49, and accounted for 20 per cent of such deaths.

Drinking limits were cut in 2016 for men from 21 units to 14 units a week - bringing them in line with the guidelines for women. However, that study's big takeaway was that even one drink a day could shorten life expectancy; long-term reduction in alcohol use added one to two years to life expectancy at age 40. They then examined 592 studies with data from 28 million people in 195 countries to understand the health risks associated with alcohol.

According to The Guardian, the study is the "largest and most detailed research carried out on the effects of alcohol".

Drinking patterns varied globally with the highest number of current alcohol drinkers in Denmark - 95.3 per cent of women, and 97.1 per cent of men - while New Zealand had the fifth highest prevalence of female drinkers at 88 per cent. Kiwi men didn't feature in the top 10.

"We too found some protective effects for Type 2 diabetes and ischemic heart disease at low levels of alcohol consumption", Gakidou said. For people over 50, cancers were cited as a leading cause of alcohol-related death (about 27 percent of deaths in women and 19 percent of deaths in men).

They also included an analysis of 23 health outcomes associated with alcohol use, including cardiovascular disease; certain cancers; noncommunicable diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver, alcohol use disorders and pancreatitis, communicable disease such as tuberculosis, intentional and unintentional injuries and transportation-related injuries.

Men in Romania and women in Ukraine drank the most - 8.2 and 4.2 drinks per day respectively.

The researchers admit moderate drinking may protect against heart disease but found that the risk of cancer and other diseases outweighs these protections.

The 0.5 per cent increase in risk meant that 918 people per 100,000 who consumed one alcoholic drink a day would develop a health problem compared with 914 who did not drink.

Lucy Rocca, founder of Soberistas, an online forum to help people stay sober, told Sky News: "I don't think it's realistic [for everyone to be sober]".

The research, published in the Lancet, states that an average of one in three people, or 2.4 billion people, drink alcohol, including 25% of women and 39% of men.

The study, which was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, contradicts other health guidelines -which espouse health benefits associated with consuming up to two drinks per day -saying any benefits were offset by the risks of developing 23 other alcohol-related diseases, specifically cancers, or dying from alcohol-related accidents.

However, it's hard to estimate the risks for a person who drinks fairly infrequently - such as someone who has one drink every two weeks - so the findings might not necessarily apply to this population.

Drinking patterns varied greatly around the world, the study found.

Looking at the rise when two drinks a day were consumed (which is just over the 14 units a week United Kingdom guidelines), he calculated that 1,600 people would have to drink 20g of alcohol a day so 32 bottles of gin each over the course of a year or 50,000 bottles in total, to once again realise one extra health problem.

Professor Emmanuela Gakidou, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, USA, said, "Alcohol poses dire ramifications for future population health in the absence of policy action today".

The risk is even more pronounced amoung younger people.

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