Some of us wind down the day with a glass of wine without guilt. We know that alcohol abuse is a problem, but moderate drinking has been permitted by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and other health standards that acknowledge that one or two drinks a day is not bad for you and can even confer some health benefits.
But according to a new review of 694 existing studies on global alcohol consumption habits and nearly 600 studies on alcohol and health for Lancet, no amount of drinking is good for you. There is no wiggle room for a drink here and there if you want to be safe. “The widely held view of the health benefits of alcohol needs revising, particularly as improved methods and analyses continue to show how much alcohol use contributes to global death and disability,” the study concluded. “Our results show that the safest level of drinking is none.”
That’s right, the risks so outweigh the benefits of drinking that if you truly want to guard your health, you’re better off not drinking altogether.
No amount of drinking is safe for your body
Across the world, drinking alcohol is a popular activity. The researchers estimated that 2.8 billion people are current drinkers. But this popular pastime comes with fatal consequences. In 2016, the researchers found that alcohol consumption led to 2.8 million deaths and was the leading risk factor for premature death and disability among people ages 15-49.
No amount of moderation could minimize the health risks alcohol causes, the researchers concluded. People who had one alcoholic drink per day had a 0.5% higher risk of getting cancer-related health problems like tuberculosis, self-harm, cancer and road injuries. These risks went up the more you drank. Two drinks bumped that number to 7%. Five drinks made it 37%, Emmanuela Gakidou, senior author of the report, calculated.
Although it’s true that moderate drinking did give women some protective benefits with diabetes and heart disease, the researchers suggested that the bigger health risks outweighed these benefits.
“Taken together, these findings emphasize that alcohol use, regardless of amount, leads to health loss across populations,” the researchers said.