S u m m a r y :
Moderate drinking appears to be linked with heart diseases, and having more than 5 alcoholic drinks per week can shorten lifespan, says a new study published in the journal The Lancet.
Moderate drinking is not as harmless as previously thought, says a new study conducted by a University of Cambridge team of scientists. The findings show that regular drinking is linked with an elevated risk of stroke, fatal aneurysm, heart failure and death, and consuming more than five alcoholic drinks on a weekly basis lowers life span. This paper challenges the common assumption that moderate drinking benefits the heart.
The researchers looked into the drinking habits and health of over 600,000 individuals from 19 countries. The data analysis reveals that drinking above the prescribed limit in the UK (5 drinks weekly; 100g of pure alcohol) is associated with lower life expectancy: for instance, consuming over 10 drinks per week is linked with a decrease in lifespan by one to two years, and 18 drinks or more per week, linked with 4 to 5 years shorter lifespans. It is to be noted that alcohol guidelines vary across the world.
Upon investigating possible links between alcohol consumption and cardiovascular disease, the researchers found higher risk of stroke, heart failure, fatal aortic aneurysms, fatal hypertensive disease and heart failure. On the other hand, a slightly lower risk of non-fatal heart attacks was found.
How does alcohol adversely affect the heart? According to the study authors, it increases blood pressure.
So, if you want to protect your heart and increase your lifespan, put your drinks aside!
“If you already drink alcohol, drinking less may help you live longer and lower your risk of several cardiovascular conditions,” says lead author, Dr Angela Wood.
“Alcohol consumption is associated with a slightly lower risk of non-fatal heart attacks but this must be balanced against the higher risk associated with other serious—and potentially fatal—cardiovascular diseases.”