More Than Five Drinks a Week Could Shorten Your Lifespan

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More Than Five Drinks a Week Could Shorten Your Lifespan

Here’s yet another reason to evaluate your relationship with alcohol: Drinking more than five drinks per week could shorten your lifespan, according to a new study published in The Lancet. Researchers linked excessive alcohol use to a higher risk of stroke, fatal aneurysm, heart failure and death.

The study evaluated the health and drinking habits of more than 600,000 people in 19 countries worldwide, controlling for age, smoking, history of diabetes, level of education and occupation.

The upper safe limit of drinking was about five drinks or no more than 14 units of alcohol per week (a unit in the UK is equivalent to 8g of pure alcohol) – and every glass of wine or pint of beer over the limit could cut half an hour from the expected lifespan of a 40 year old, according to the researchers.

David Spiegelhalter, a risk expert at Britain’s University of Cambridge, compared the risks to that of smoking, with each unit above guidelines taking, on average, about 15 minutes of life, he told The Guardian.

Perhaps what’s most scary, is that these upper limits are less than what’s recommended in the U.S.: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Heart Association recommend no more than two alcohol drinks per day for men and no more than one for women. A drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, four ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits.

Prof Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, which part-funded the study, called it “a serious wakeup call for many countries,” according to The Guardian.

A simple but true statement, considering that more than 38 million American adults admit to binge drinking once a week and consume an average of eight drinks per binge, according the CDC.

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