Washington: Before gulping down that glass of wine, think twice, as a recent study has found that consuming one to two drinks four or more times per week increases the risk of premature death by 20 per cent. The study, published online on October 3 in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, was conducted by analysing data from more than 400,000 people, between the age group of 18 to 85.
According to first author Sarah M Hartz, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, "It used to seem like having one or two drinks per day was no big deal, and there even have been some studies suggesting it can improve health. But now, we know that even the lightest daily drinkers have an increased mortality risk."
Although some earlier studies have linked light drinking to improvements in cardiovascular health, Dr Hartz said the new study shows that those potential gains are outweighed by other risks.
Her team evaluated heart disease risk and cancer risk and found that although in some cases, drinking alcohol may reduce risk of heart-related problems, daily drinking increased cancer risk and, as a result, mortality risk.
"Consuming one or two drinks about four days per week seemed to protect againstcardiovascular disease, but drinking every day eliminated those benefits. With regard to cancer risk, any drinking at all was detrimental," Dr Hartz told the Science Daily.
The new study comes on the heels of research published in The Lancet, which reviewed data from more than 700 studies around the world and concluded that the safest level of drinking is none.
"A 20 per cent increase in risk of death is a much bigger deal in older people, who already are at higher risk. Relatively, few people die in their 20s, so a 20 per cent increase in mortality is small, but still significant. As people age, their risk of death from any cause also increases, so a 20 per cent risk increase at age 75 translates into many more deaths than it does at age 25."
She predicted that as medicine becomes more personalised, some doctors may recommend that people with family histories of heart problems have a drink from time to time, but in families with a history of cancer, physicians may recommend abstinence.
"If you tailor medical recommendations to an individual person, there may be situations under which you would think that occasional drinking potentially could be helpful. But overall, I do think people should no longer consider a glass of wine a day to somehow be healthy,'' she added.(UNI)