Should We Abstain from Drinking Alcohol?
Past research has reported that having an occasional glass of wine or other types of alcohol is fine for your health. Some have even claimed health benefits from doing so. However, a new research study has found otherwise: no amount of alcohol use is good for your health.
A CNN article details a global alcohol study (2016) in which it was found that no amount of alcohol (liquor, wine, or beer) is safe for an individual’s health. The study, a Lancet study, was done through the Gates Foundation. In this study, alcohol was measured with 23 health conditions and “alcohol-related risks” for individuals between the ages of 15 to 95. This study uncovered that alcohol use “was the leading risk factor for disease and premature death in men and women between the ages of 15 and 49 worldwide in 2016, account for nearly one in ten deaths.” Overall, alcohol was a component of 2.8 million deaths in 2016. A high amount of alcohol use can result in “alcohol-related cancer and cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, intentional injury such as violence and self-harm, and traffic accidents and other unintentional injuries such as drowning and fires.” Not only are these high rates of death shocking, but alcohol seems to play a role in the formation and development of a range of dangerous diseases.
China, India, and Russia had the highest total number of alcohol-related deaths. In these countries with huge populations, this notion held true for men and women. Helen Stokes-Lampard, a chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners in the United Kingdom, believes “this study is a stark reminder of the real, and potentially lethal, dangers that too much alcohol can have on our health and that even the lowest levels of alcohol intake increase our risks.” Although past studies (such as one by the American Heart Association Journal Circulation’s) have associated “moderate alcohol consumption as one of five low-risk lifestyle-related factors’ that could help people live longer”, Jeremy Pearson (associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, disagrees. He stated, “while there may be a slight benefit to heart and circulatory health from modest drinking, many studies have shown that the overall health risks of drinking alcohol outweigh any benefits.” Additionally, when all risk factors for diseases are accounted for, some believe that drinking alcohol does more harm than good. Overall, the study concluded that there was no “safe” amount of alcohol and if used at all, it should be minimally.
However, some disagree with the magnitude of this study’s findings. The Alcohol Information Partnership, an organization consisting of liquor companies, said, “Nothing in this study challenges the array of studies suggesting that choosing to drink moderately is associated with a decreased risk of some health issues and a lower risk of death. We advocate sensible drinking by those who choose to drink and support consistent, evidence-based advice, which enables people to make their own informed choices about alcohol.” Other alcohol-related groups and councils have mirrored this statement: alcohol is fine to consume if done moderately and safely. They do not believe in the “worldwide abstention from alcohol.”