Could one drink a day shorten your life?

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The new study estimates that 40-year-old men who drink as much as current USA guidelines suggest can expect to live one to two years less than men who have no more than seven drinks per week. For example, if a person drank over 10 drinks per week, they would live two years less, and 18 drinks per week can shorten the life with 4-5 years. Higher consumption was associated with a higher risk of stroke, heart failure, fatal hypertensive disease, and fatal aneurysms.

The large-scale study analysed the drinking habits of people in 19 countries, and calculated how much lifespan a person might expect to lose if they maintained the same drinking habits from age 40 onwards.

The study suggests that the risk of premature death rose quickly when more than 100g of alcohol was consumed per week - that's five to six glasses of wine or pints of beer.

The researchers found that regularly drinking over this was linked to lower life expectancy. Most of the coverage was accurate, although the i chose to focus on the fact that Italy, Portugal and Spain have recommended alcohol limits which are higher than the United Kingdom and describing the UK's as some of the "strictest in the world" - although it did go on to point out that the research supports these lower guidelines.

A drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, four ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits.

In contrast to those findings, alcohol consumption was also linked with a slightly lower risk of nonfatal heart attack.

On the other hand, the risk of non-fatal heart attacks was somewhat smaller for people drinking more.

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People who follow government guidelines to have a drink or so a day could be drinking themselves into an early grave, researchers said Thursday.

"Secondly, there has been a fiction, used by the alcohol industry to maintain nearly unrestrained advertising for its products, that small quantities of alcohol are beneficial, even healthy (reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease)".

The worldwide team of researchers analyzed almost 600,000 people aged 30-100 from 19 different countries as part of 80 different studies.

The upper recommended limit for men in the U.S. is nearly 25 units of alcohol per week.

"We should always remember that alcohol guidelines should act as a limit, not a target and try to drink well below this threshold". The group partly funded the study, which was published Thursday by the Lancet journal.

Rao, visiting lecturer in old age psychiatry at King's College London, told The Guardian the study "highlights the need to reduce alcohol related harm in baby boomers, an age group now at highest risk of rising alcohol misuse". They noted that while alcohol may lower the risk of non-fatal heart attacks, it found that "on balance" there were no health benefits from drinking. On average, each unit of alcohol consumed over the 100g threshold, slices about 15 minutes off a person´s life - about the same as a cigarette, David Spiegelhalter, a professor in the "understanding of risk" at the University of Cambridge said in a comment on the report.

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