From young adults to the elderly, drinking beer, wine or spirits significantly contributes to causes of early death, according to a new study.
A recent analysis of data from almost 700 studies in The Lancet medical journal (via Bloomberg) found that there is absolutely no benefit to drinking alcohol as its health risks far outweigh any benefits you might get from it, like winding down after a long day or being able to tolerate people you can't stand for a few hours at a time. At that level, the absolute increase is small, equaling only four additional deaths per 100,000 people per year, according to the study.
In this age group, the main causes of alcohol-related deaths were tuberculosis (1.4 percent), road injuries (1.2 percent) and self-harm (1.1 percent), the findings showed.
But the new paper, published Thursday in The Lancet, calls that long-held conclusion into question.
Alcohol was found to protect only against ischemic heart disease - or hardening of the arteries - but the effect was described as small compared to the health risks from drinking. 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 minimises health loss is zero.
So while some moderate drinkers might never experience health problems from drinking, "if you look at all the risks and all the benefits of alcohol, it's probably net harmful, on average, for the whole population", he says. In fact, sided with multiples studies that say drinking alcohol in a certain amount every day is fine, the belief only gets concretized. Unlike some previous studies, researchers examined self-reported data about alcohol consumption as well as alcohol sales information to determine the prevalence of imbibing among populations.
Globally, one in three people (32.5 per cent) drink alcohol - equivalent to 2.4 billion people, including 25 per cent women (0.9 billion) and 39 per cent men (1.5 billion).
They estimated that, for one year, in people aged 15-95, drinking one alcoholic drink a day increased the risk of developing one of 23 alcohol-related health problems by 0.5 per cent compared with not drinking at all.
Many in the medical community immediately responded in support of alcohol abstinence suggested in the study.
"There is no safe level of driving, but governments do not recommend that people avoid driving", Spiegelhalter told the BBC.
While Brits are fairly boozy, the highest number of current alcohol drinkers were in Denmark (95.3% of women and 97.1% of men) while the lowest were in Pakistan for men (0.8%) and Bangladesh for women (0.3%). "This level is in conflict with most health guidelines, which espouse health benefits associated with consuming up to two drinks per day". Of them, 2.2 per cent of women and 6.8 per cent of men die of alcohol-related health problems each year, the study found.