A glass of wine a day may raise the risk of an early death

A new study has refuted earlier findings that a drink a day may benefit the heart.

The study entitled “Daily drinking is associated with increased mortality,” was published this week in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and showed that even moderate drinking is linked to early death.

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The Centre for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) defines moderate drinking as no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men.

The study showed that light drinkers who took in four or more drinks per week are at a 20 percent greater risk of dying compared to those who drank three or less number of times per week.

Study co-author Dr. Sarah Hartz, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis called three drinks per week as the cut-off.

The frequency of drinking does matter, in the same way that taking a medicine matters. If you take a medicine once a week, it impacts you differently than if you take a medicine every day.”

Dr. Sarah Hartz, Co-author

Recently a study published in the Lancet showed that no amount of drinking is safe. The study linked drinking even in minor amounts with diseases ranging from liver problems to cancers.

Hartz said that this change in recommendations from the earlier belief that “a glass of red wine a day is good for the heart” to “no drinks at all” has been in the making in the recent years.

The researchers analyzed data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) patients.

Overall, around 435,000 people between ages 18 and 85 years participated in the study. Lifestyle and drinking habits, as well as the health of the individuals, was tracked for an average of 7 to 10 years.

Results revealed that among the NHIS sample around 40 percent were teetotallers or had stopped drinking.

Another 86 percent reported that they drank one or two drinks per sitting. This included around 340,000 adults.

Results showed that those who drank in one or two alcoholic drinks less than three times per week had a lower risk of early death. However, each drink over this limit increased the risk of an early death. Similar trends were seen among the VHA participants.

The team noted that while low levels of drinking did not affect the risk of heart disease, the risk of developing cancer rose with any amount of drink.

The minimum risk of low‐level drinking frequency for all‐cause mortality appears to be approximately 3 occasions weekly...Daily drinking, even at low levels, is detrimental to one's health.”

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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