No level of alcohol use is healthy, scientists say

When it comes to drinking alcohol, the healthiest thing to do is to remember completely, according to a large, comprehensive report published by scientists.

Alcohol led to 2.8 million premature deaths in 2016; it was the leading risk factor for premature death and disability in the 15-49 age group, accounting for 20 percent of deaths, according to researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, who conducted the study.

Worldwide, 27.1 percent of cancer deaths in women and 18.9 percent in men older than 50 years were related to their drinking habits, according to the findings of the study, which were published in The Lancet's medical journal.

Researchers examined the health effects of alcohol use in 195 countries between 1990 and 2016 – using data from 694 studies to find out how often drinking was used and 592 studies to determine health risks.

The study, which was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, also analyzed whether moderate drinking levels could have health benefits – that previous studies have indicated.


Shot of an impeccable bar with many bottles and glasses without people

Although researchers found that low levels of drinking could offer some protection against heart disease, and perhaps also of diabetes, these positive results were much compensated by the harmful influence of alcohol.

For young people, the biggest causes of death were alcohol tuberculosis (1.4 percent), traffic injuries (1.2 percent) and self-harm (1.1 percent).

The study shows that one in three, or 2.4 billion people around the world drink alcohol. That equates to a quarter of women and 39 percent of men. Denmark has the most drinkers: 95.3 percent of women and 97.1 percent of men.

"Alcohol is a serious branching for the future health of the population in the absence of policy measures today." The widely supported view on the health benefits of alcohol needs to be revised, especially as improved methods and analyzes continue to show how much alcohol use contributes to global mortality and disability Our results show that the safest level of drinking is none, "says the study.

"This level is contrary to most health guidelines, which entail health benefits associated with consuming up to two drinks per day. The use of alcohol contributes to health loss through many causes and takes its toll over its life, especially among men, "the study suggests, suggesting that government policy should concentrate on reducing consumption across the board.

Christopher Carbone is a reporter and news editor for science and technology for He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @christocarbone.

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