Cheers if You're Over 40. Not So Fast if You're Younger

New analysis finds there's no benefit and only increased health risks for young adults who drink
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 15, 2022 1:54 PM CDT
Cheers if You're Over 40. Not So Fast if You're Younger
Don't lift that glass quite yet, Gens Y and Z.   (Getty Images/ViewApart)

First scientists told us that young adults shouldn't drink alone; now they're saying they shouldn't drink at all. At least, that's the conclusion of new research out of Seattle's University of Washington, which is part of the ongoing "Global Burden of Diseases" study carried out by the school. The Guardian notes that four years ago, the rolling project found that even an occasional alcoholic beverage wasn't healthy, for anyone, and those involved in the research pushed for abstinence. The new analysis published in the Lancet looked at alcohol usage estimates from more than 200 nations and how consumption appeared to affect nearly two dozen health outcomes, including injuries and various cancers—and then walked back the original research a bit.

The scientists now find that older adults (i.e., those 40 and up) who don't have underlying health conditions and drink a limited amount of booze—say, a small glass of red wine daily—may derive certain benefits, including a lower risk of stroke, diabetes, and heart disease. Who still shouldn't be imbibing, per the research, which a release notes "is the first study to report alcohol risk by geographical region, age, sex, and year": anyone younger than 40. The scientists found that, for those in the 15-39 age group, "drinking alcohol does not provide any health benefits and presents many health risks." Males in this demographic made up the largest portion of those gulping down unsafe amounts of booze.

The researchers are now suggesting that worldwide alcohol recommendations be based on location and age, though in general, it's suggested adults not consume more than 1.87 drinks a day, no matter how old they are or where they live. But do the scientists here expect their research to move the needle on youth drinking? Not exactly, though they still feel it's critical to share what they've learned. "While it may not be realistic to think young adults will abstain from drinking, we do think it's important to communicate the latest evidence so that everyone can make informed decisions about their health," says study co-author Dr. Emmanuela Gakidou. (Read more alcohol stories.)

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