Light drinking increases your risk of premature death, according to a study of over 400,000 people published Wednesday.
Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis analyzed people aged 18 through 85 and found that consuming one or two drinks four or more times a week increases the risk of premature death by 20 percent.
This contradicts previous theories that small amounts of alcohol could have health benefits.
“Moderate” drinking refers to about one drink, or less, a day, according to a report by Harvard University. In the U.S., one drink is usually considered to be 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of spirits.
In comparison, consuming one or two drinks a few times a week is deemed a healthy amount by current guidelines, however, according to the team of researchers from Washington University School of Medicine, this is not the case.
“It used to seem like having one or two drinks per day was no big deal, and there even have been some studies suggesting it can improve health,” first author Sarah M. Hartz said in a statement. “But now we know that even the lightest daily drinkers have an increased mortality risk.”
She explained that, while previous research suggested light drinking could lead to improved cardiovascular health, their new study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research found the negative effects far outweighed the good.
“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.”
The findings follow research published in the Lancet, which came to similar conclusions about alcohol consumption.
After reviewing data from over 700 studies across the globe, researchers in that study determined there was no safe level of drinking and that alcohol use “is a leading risk factor for global disease burden and causes substantial health loss.”
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