Drinking a glass of wine daily for health reasons may not be so healthy after all. A new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis found that consuming one to two drinks four or more times per week increases the risk of premature death by 20%, compared with drinking three times a week or less.
First author Sarah M Hartz said, “It used to seem like having one or two drinks per day was no big deal, and there 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, 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 against cardiovascular disease, but drinking every day eliminated those benefits,” she said. “With regard to cancer risk, any drinking at all was detrimental.”
“A 20% increase in risk of death is a much bigger deal in older people who already are at higher risk,” Hartz explained. “Relatively few people die in their 20s, so a 20% increase in mortality is small but still significant. As people age, their risk of death from any cause also increases, so a 20% 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.
The full findings are present in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
First Published: Oct 05, 2018 13:25 IST