Study claims no safe level of alcohol consumption

24th August, 2018 by Nicola Carruthers

Drinking alcohol is associated to some 2.8 million deaths each year, according to a study that concluded there is no safe level of alcohol use.

WSTA’s Miles Beale says “moderate consumption of alcohol is more beneficial than not drinking at all”

The Global Burden of Diseases study published in the Lancet journal was carried out by researchers at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), who investigated levels of alcohol consumption and health effects in 195 countries between 1990 to 2016.

They used data from 694 studies to work out how common drinking was and from 592 studies including 28 million people worldwide to work out the health risks.

The researchers admit moderate drinking may protect against heart disease but found that the risk of cancer and other diseases outweighs these protections.

Alcohol led to 2.8 million deaths in 2016, according to the report. It was the leading risk factor for premature mortality and disability in the 15 to 49 age group, accounting for 20% of deaths.

The report also noted that it is “crucial for decision makers and government agencies to enact or maintain strong alcohol control policies” to stop rising alcohol consumption in the future.

However, Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Association (WSTA), states that responsible drinking is “compatible with a healthy lifestyle”.

He said: “The latest ONS data shows that alcohol consumption in the UK has fallen 19% over the last decade and people are less likely to binge drink than they were 10 years ago.

“There are a wealth of studies showing that, contrary to this research, moderate consumption of alcohol is more beneficial than not drinking at all. There are also studies showing that the social and mental wellbeing of individuals is enhanced through the responsible enjoyment of alcohol around friends.

“We fully support efforts to provide the public with balanced and unbiased information about the risks associated with drinking so that they can make their own informed decisions, rather than potentially misleading efforts that suggest any level of alcohol consumption is harmful, with no acknowledgement of the benefits.”

The report is the latest blow to drinks companies in a long-running debate over the safety of alcohol. It follows a study published yesterday in the journal Addiction that claimed the alcohol industry would lose £13 billion (US$16.7bn) if all drinkers in England followed the recommended consumption guidelines.

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