No safe level of alcohol, new study concludes
A new scientific study concludes there is no safe level of drinking alcohol.
The study, published today in the international medical journal The Lancet, shows that in 2016, nearly 3 million deaths globally were attributed to alcohol use, including 12 percent of deaths in males between the ages of 15 and 49.
"The health risks associated with alcohol are massive," said Dr. Emmanuela Gakidou of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington and the senior author of the study.
"Our findings are consistent with other recent research, which found clear and convincing correlations between drinking and premature death, cancer, and cardiovascular problems. Zero alcohol consumption minimizes the overall risk of health loss."
Gakidou is a professor of health metrics sciences at the UW School of Medicine, and of global health at the UW School of Public Health.
The study does not distinguish between beer, wine, and liquor due to a lack of evidence when estimating the disease burden, Gakidou said. However, researchers used data on all alcohol-related deaths generally and related health outcomes to determine their conclusions.
Alcohol use patterns vary widely by country and by sex, the average consumption per drinker, and the attributable disease burden. Globally, more than 2 billion people were current drinkers in 2016; 63% were male.
"Average consumption" refers to a standard drink, defined in the study as 10 grams of pure alcohol, consumed by a person daily, about the equivalent of:
A small glass of red wine (100 ml or 3.4 fluid ounces) at 13% alcohol by volume;
A can or bottle of beer (375 ml or 12 fluid ounces) at 3.5% alcohol by volume; or
A shot of whiskey or other spirits (30 ml or 1.0 fluid ounces) at 40% alcohol by volume.
"Standard drinks" are different by country. For example, in the United Kingdom a standard drink is 8 grams of alcohol, whereas in Australia, the United States, and Japan, it is 10 grams, 14 grams, and 20 grams, respectively.
The study, part of the annual Global Burden of Disease, assesses alcohol-related health outcomes and patterns between 1990 and 2016 for 195 countries and territories and by age and sex.