A new study overturns claims that drinking alcohol in moderation has potential health benefits. Researchers at the University of Greifswald in Germany are against the idea of drinking alcohol in moderation to protect your health. Alcohol consumption should not be recommended for health reasons, whether in small or moderate amounts.
Some studies have shown an increased risk of death among people who drink alcohol compared to people who drink alcohol in small or moderate amounts. The new study interprets the cause as risky behaviors previously taken by people who stopped drinking. This study was published in the academic journal ‘PLOS Medicine’.
Previous research has shown that moderate drinkers live longer than those who don’t drink alcohol at all. Long ago, another study concluded that men who drink in moderation have a longer life expectancy than those who drink occasionally or heavily.
However, Dr. Ulrich Yohn and his colleagues at the University of Greifswald speculate that other risk factors may be responsible for the lower life expectancy of non-drinkers than drinkers. It goes against the conventional idea that small or moderate consumption of alcohol is beneficial to health. “Advising medical students and patients that drinking alcohol in moderation can improve their health is problematic,” says Dr. Yonne.
Long-term epidemiological data have shown that people who drink less alcohol live longer than those who don’t drink. The medical community regarded this as scientific evidence that alcohol consumption could benefit health, particularly cardiovascular health. However, over the past few years, the shortcomings of these studies have become increasingly known.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that 14.5 million Americans 12 years of age and older have an alcohol use disorder (AUD). AUD is characterized by impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite social and occupational health effects.
For the new study, the researchers looked at a random sample of 4028 German adults who had previously been interviewed. Previous interviews included standardized AUD identification test questions and were conducted between 1996 and 1997. The age of the participants at the time was 18-64 years.
The study included questions about alcohol use during the 12 months prior to a new interview and asked whether participants had risky behaviors in the past. Risky behaviors include dependence on alcohol or drugs, binge drinking, and daily smoking. Participants also ranked their overall health using various categories.
Of the participants, 447 (11.1%) did not drink alcohol at all in the 12 months prior to their first interview in 1996-1997. Of these, 405 (90.6%) had previously drank alcohol and 322 (72.04%) had risky behavior. Of the 322 patients with one or more risk factors, 114 (35.4%) experienced AUD. Another 161 (50%) smoked cigarettes daily.
Then, the mortality rate within 20 years after the first interview was investigated. As a result of the survey, it was found that 119 (26.6%) of 447 sober people died. 248 (11.26%) of the 2,203 participants who consumed low or moderate alcohol in the 12 months immediately before the first interview also died.
However, they found that neither those who drank no alcohol at all in the 12 months prior to the study nor those who abstained from alcohol had a higher mortality rate than those who drank small or moderate amounts of alcohol. The researchers also found a direct correlation between smoking and additional alcohol-related risks.
According to the researchers, these results could be interpreted as those who abstained from alcohol had no higher risk of death than those who drank in small or moderate amounts. The increase in the risk of death among sobers is likely due to lifestyle factors prior to the week or to smoking. “Our findings add new evidence that for health reasons, drinking in small or moderate amounts should not be recommended,” said Dr Yonne.
“There is no reason to recommend alcohol for health reasons,” said NIAAA Commissioner George Cobb. Even moderate levels of alcohol should be consumed knowing that there are still health risks.
“Our study is one of the few studies that looked at the details of the former life of abstinents, known risk factors for premature death,” says Dr. Yonne. This means that later on, whether you stop drinking or not, it can reveal how your past life can affect your health. The key conclusion is that chronic excessive alcohol consumption can damage the body.
Reporter Lee Bo-hyun [email protected]
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