According to the research, drinking more alcohol is associated with a higher risk of stroke, fatal aneurysm, heart failure and death. USA recommendations state men shouldn't consume more than 14 standard drinks per week, but that's almost twice the limit proposed in this new study.
The lead author of this study, which was part funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) Dr. Angela Wood explained "The key message of this research for public health is that, if you already drink alcohol, drinking less may help you live longer and lower your risk of several cardiovascular conditions".
The research found that people who reported weekly drinking of 100-200g, 200-350g or more than 350g had an estimated lower life expectancy at age 40 years of approximately 6 months, 1-2 years, or 4-5 years, respectively.
Even the most casual drinkers among us, including those following USA government recommendations, can see months and years taken away by steadily hitting the hooch, according to a new study by an worldwide team of researchers.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Heart Association both say men can safely drink up to two alcoholic drinks a day and women up to a drink a day. However, risk of non-fatal heart attacks dipped with more alcohol. Italians, Portuguese and Spanish drinkers are warned that consuming more than around nine glasses of wine could be risky. While the study did suggest 12.5 units is the threshold above which risks start to rise, the difference in risk between people drinking 12.5 and 14 units was small.
The United States government now advises no more than seven drinks a week for women and 14 for men.
Researchers studying alcohol consumption and mortality have advised countries like the US slash their drinking guidelines.
The researchers calculated life would be shortened by an average of 1.3 years for women and 1.6 years for men for people aged 40 who drank above the United Kingdom weekly limit in comparison with those drinking below the limit. In an effort to avoid the problems that have plagued alcohol and health studies for decades, researchers only studied current drinkers, excluding abstainers or those who'd quit drinking. The researchers focused on who developed - and died from - stroke and different forms of heart disease.
The authors note that the different relationships between alcohol intake and various types of cardiovascular disease may relate to alcohol's elevating effects on blood pressure and on factors related to elevated high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) (also known as "good" cholesterol).
This research recalibrates the concept of moderate drinking and gives a more complicated, nuanced interpretation of how alcohol affects cardiovascular health for better or worse.
While most Canadians drink alcohol in moderation, the government estimates four to five million of them engage in high risk drinking.