A daily pint or glass of wine doesnt raise the risk of early death

Increasing your risk of cancer and dementia, alcohol spells no good news for your health. While drinking in excess carries obvious risks, the effects of low and moderate consumption have been long debated. Now, a review of 107 studies tries to settle this dispute once and for all.

From wine to beer and gin to cider, Britons are guilty of enjoying the occasional tipple.

While a cheeky pint can be a synonym for ending the work day on a high note, alcohol has been linked to a whole host of health problems.

However, a new study, published in the JAMA Network Open, suggests that enjoying a tipple in moderation won’t kill you.

The researchers found that low and moderate drinking may not significantly increase your risk of an early death.

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This means that a daily pint or a glass of wine might not be as harmful as previously thought.

However, enjoying a regular tipple doesn’t boost your health either, according to the researchers.

The findings showed that low and moderate drinkers have similar mortality rates to teetotallers.

But women who drank more than a glass of wine a day were at least a fifth more prone to an early grave than abstainers.

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Furthermore, those who downed up to a bottle a day were 61 percent more likely to die before their time.

For men, two pints a day increased the risk of an early death by 15 percent, with this number rising with each pint.

Looking at 107 studies from around the world, the findings were based on 4.8 million people – making it one of the biggest analyses of its kind.

Lead author Dr Jinhui Zhao, of the University of Victoria, Canada, said: “In this updated systematic review and meta-analysis, daily low or moderate alcohol intake was not significantly associated with all-cause mortality risk, while increased risk was evident at higher consumption levels, starting at lower levels for women than men.

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“There was a significantly increased risk of all-cause mortality among female drinkers who drank 25 or more grams per day (a large glass of wine) and among male drinkers who drank 45 (two pints) or more grams per day.

“Low-volume alcohol drinking was not associated with protection against death from all causes.”

The proposition that low-dose alcohol use protects against all-cause mortality in general populations continues to be controversial.

Dr Zhao said: “Observational studies tend to show that people classified as ‘moderate drinkers’ have a longer life expectancy and are less likely to die from heart disease than those classified as abstainers.”

But they tend to have better dental hygiene, exercise more and have higher income. 

Abstainers may have poorer health and be former drinkers, many of whom cut down or stopped for health reasons.

Dr Zhao and colleagues took these factors into account. He said: “Our meta-analysis of 107 studies found no significant protective associations of occasional or moderate drinking with all-cause mortality and an increased risk of all-cause mortality for drinkers who drank 25g or more and a significantly increased risk when drinking 45g or more per day.

“Future longitudinal studies in this field should attempt to minimise lifetime selection biases by not including former and occasional drinkers in the reference group, and by using younger cohorts more representative of drinkers in the general population at baseline.”

Remember, the NHS advises not to drink more than 14 units of alcohol per week.

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