Study Has Sobering News for Moderate Drinkers

There's no safe level of consumption, researchers say
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 24, 2018 5:02 AM CDT
Updated Aug 26, 2018 7:33 AM CDT
People celebrate the opening of the 182nd Oktoberfest beer festival in Munich.   (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, file)
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(Newser) – People who think drinking moderate amounts of alcohol delivers health benefits should think again, according to a massive study published in the Lancet. Some 512 researchers analyzed more than 1,000 studies and concluded that the safest level of alcohol consumption is zero, the Washington Post reports. They found that the modest improvements in heart health associated with light drinking are more than offset by the increased risk of other conditions including breast cancer and cancer of the larynx, as well as violence and vehicle accidents. "What's surprising is that no amount of drinking is good for you," says senior researcher Emmanuela Gakidou. "People should no longer think that a drink or two a day is good for you. What's best for you is to not drink at all."

The study—which found that alcohol was the main risk factor for early death in people 15 to 49—also looked at the prevalence of drinking worldwide and found that 2.4 billion people drink alcohol—including more than 95% of people in Denmark, the country where people are likeliest to drink. But Cambridge professor David Spiegelhalter, who specializes in the public understanding of risk, notes that the risk to moderate drinkers is very low. "Given the pleasure presumably associated with moderate drinking, claiming there is no 'safe' level does not seem an argument for abstention," he tells the Guardian. "There is no safe level of driving, but governments do not recommend that people avoid driving. Come to think of it, there is no safe level of living." (The CDC says 17.5 billion is a big number for US binge drinkers.)

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