Published: Sat, April 14, 2018
Medicine | By Melba Vasquez

Alcohol guidelines in many countries may not be safe

Alcohol guidelines in many countries may not be safe

The current Australian Guidelines recommend no more than 2 standard drinks per day, or 14 each week.

The latest global research has just trashed Australian health guidelines of having no more than two alcoholic drinks each day.

The researchers point out that there is no thresholds below which lower alcohol consumption stopped being associated with disease risk but that the threshold for lowest risk was 100g per week.

The UK's recommended safe drinking limits state that men and women should not indulge in more than 14 units of alcohol, or about six glasses, in a week.

Notably, the heavier drinkers were less likely to have a heart attack.

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The study published Thursday in the Lancet analyzed data from 600,000 people who drink zero to more than 350 grams of alcohol per week. In the United Kingdom, 100 grams is about six pints of beer a week.

A standard drink contains 10g of pure alcohol and is equivalent to a half-pint of 4.5% lager, a small glass of a wine or a pub measure of spirits.

The work of British scientists confirmed the previous study according to which the safe dose of alcohol for men and women - 112 grams of alcohol per week. This slightly lower risk of heart attack tied to alcohol consumption must be balanced against the other "serious, and potentially fatal, cardiovascular diseases" linked with alcohol consumption, lead study author Dr. Angela Wood, a lecturer in biostatistics at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, said in the statement. What this means is that the results have been skewed and moderate drinkers have been made to look better than they probably should. "These findings underline what we have already said".

According to the latest USA dietary guidelines, updated every five years and again in 2020, women should drink no more than one serving of alcohol per day; men can drink up to two.

The research did not take into account the possibility of mental disorders such as dementia, which could accompany the other health problems drinkers incur. "Nonetheless, the findings ought to be widely disseminated and they should provoke informed public and professional debate".

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An worldwide team of researchers looked at data from 600,000 people in 19 countries, who were asked about drinking habits dating back as long ago as 1964.

And they warned that people who drink more than 18 drinks a week could lose four to five years of their lives.

Added Tim Chico, professor of cardiovascular medicine and honorary consultant cardiologist at the University of Sheffield, "It is hard to accurately estimate the risks of alcohol to health, but the large size and design of this study make its findings both reliable and applicable to countries around the world".

The team also explored links between how much alcohol people consumed and their risk of different types of cardiovascular disease.

It finds that the people who consume more than one drink a day face greater risks of dying from any cause than those who drink less.

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The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) says it is is reviewing the Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol 2009.

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