Many people believe that when drinking alcohol, moderation is the key.
They think moderate drinking can provide some health benefits to the body, and drinking alcohol in social situations, like a pint of beer at a party, is totally fine.
Unfortunately, recent research evidence doesn’t agree with this.
For example, one study from Penn State University suggests that the health benefits of moderate drinking may be overstated.
In the study of more than 9000 middle-aged people across England, Scotland and Wales, researchers find that light-to-moderate drinkers (roughly six pints of beer or six medium-sized glasses of wine, per week) could only enjoy a healthy life if they don’t smoke.
If they were former smokers or still had the occasional cigarette, they suffered from poor health.
Also, if they were obese or lack of exercise, their health situations were not as good as people with a normal body weight.
This result shows that the health benefits of moderate drinking are limited, and other lifestyle behaviors have to be considered.
Another study from the University of Oxford shows that even moderate drinking could hurt the brain.
Drinkers may suffer from a decline in cognitive skills. Researchers checked the data of weekly alcohol drinking and cognitive performance in 550 healthy men and women over 30 years.
They found that higher alcohol drinking over the 30 years was linked to a higher risk of hippocampal atrophy – a form of brain damage that affects memory and spatial navigation.
Moreover, even those drinking moderately (14-21 units per week) were 3 times more likely to have hippocampal atrophy compared with abstainers. There is no proactive effect of light drinking.
A third study from the University of Cambridge shows that drinking more than 5 pints a week could shorten drinkers’ life.
The study shows that drinking alcohol is linked to high risk of stroke, fatal aneurysm, heart failure, and early death.
The study compared the health and drinking habits of over 600,000 people in 19 countries worldwide. The upper safe limit of drinking was about five drinks per week.
When drinking amount was higher than the limit, alcohol intake was linked to lower life expectancy.
For example, having 10 or more drinks per week was linked with one to two years shorter life expectancy. Having 18 drinks or more per week was linked with four to five years shorter life expectancy.
Finally, an article from The Conversation mentions that even drinking just a pint of beer could lower life expectancy by the same amount as smoking a cigarette.
Even some people may get the ‘health benefit’ from alcohol – lower risk of a non-fatal heart attack, this “benefit” is outweighed by higher risks of stroke, heart disease, heart failure and death from any cause.
The researchers suggest that for good health, it’s best to consistently drink a little less on most occasions or skip alcohol altogether.
When you have to drink, try to space it out over the week, rather than drinking several alcoholic drinks in a day.
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