No amount of wine, beer, or any type of liquor is safe or beneficial for one's overall health, a major study reveals.
A team of researchers found that while moderate drinking might prevent heart diseases, the risk of developing cancer and other serious illnesses outweigh the potential benefits.
"The health risks associated with alcohol are massive," stated Dr. Emmanuela Gakidou, senior author of the study. "Our findings are consistent with other recent research, which found clear and convincing correlations between drinking and premature death, cancer, and cardiovascular problems. Zero alcohol consumption minimizes the overall risk of health loss."
Alcohol Consumption As A Risk Factor For Death
For the scientific study, Gakidou and her team looked at data from all 694 data sources, including individual and population-level, on alcohol consumption. This includes recorded information on premature death and disability from 300 diseases, taking into account sex and age, in 195 countries including the United States and the United Kingdom, from 1990 to 2016.
Researchers found that alcohol consumption was the leading risk factor for premature death and disease in 2016 among people aged 15 to 49. Only 3.8 percent of deaths connected to drinking are women while 12.2 percent of deaths are men.
The leading cause of death among the age group includes tuberculosis, road accidents, and self-inflicted harm.
For people aged 50 and up, 27 percent of alcohol-related deaths involved women while men accounted for 19 percent. Various forms of cancers are the leading cause of death.
Unfortunately, the study does not distinguish between different kinds of liquor due to lack of data. The findings were published in The Lancet.
"We now understand that alcohol is one of the major causes of death in the world today," said The Lancet editor Richard Horton. "We need to act now. We need to act urgently to prevent these millions of deaths. And we can."
Moderate Drinking Still A Threat
The study also contradicts the popular belief that drinking a glass or two a day provide some health benefits. Researchers noted that previous studies linking the potential health benefits to moderate drinking were limited, often self-reported, or does not take into account the fact that some people avoid drinking because they already have health issues.
While there were benefits to moderate alcohol consumption such as reduced risk of ischemic heart disease and ischemic stroke, the results were not statistically significant. The link between alcohol consumption and the higher risk of cancer, infectious diseases, and other injuries significantly outweigh the possible protective effects of heart diseases, according to the study.