There is a new global study that finds that the harmful effects of alcohol consumption greatly outweigh any potential benefits. According to the research published in the medical journal The Lancet, there are 2.8 million deaths worldwide each year related to alcohol. The researchers concluded there is no safe level of alcohol consumption. According to the study, there’s a strong association between alcohol consumption and increased risk of cancer. More than 2% of women and 7% of men worldwide die from alcohol-related health problems every year.
“Previous studies have found a protective effect of alcohol on some conditions, but we found that the combined health risks associated with alcohol increase with any amount of alcohol,” lead researcher Dr. Max Griswold, of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, said in a statement. “In particular, the strong association between alcohol consumption and the risk of cancer, injuries, and infectious diseases offset the protective effects for ischemic heart disease in women in our study.”
The researchers reviewed data from 694 studies to estimate how common drinking alcohol is worldwide. They also looked at 592 studies with data on 28 million people in 195 countries to study alcohol-related health risks.
The research showed that in 2016 drinking alcohol was the seventh leading risk factor for premature death and disease. That year, in people aged 15 to 49 years old, the leading risk factor was alcohol, with 3.8 percent of deaths in women and 12.2 percent of deaths in men.
In this age group, tuberculosis, road injuries, and self-harm were the leading causes of alcohol-related deaths. Cancers were a leading cause of alcohol-related death in people age 50 and older, accounting for about 27 percent of deaths in women and 19 percent in men.
The report says that previous studies looking at the health benefits of alcohol have numerous limitations. Often they are often self-reported, which relies on people recalling their drinking habits, which is subject to human error; or based on alcohol sales data, which does not provide an accurate picture of people’s individual consumption levels. Also, certain studies may not take into account that some non-drinkers may abstain from alcohol because they have health issues. Some studies also ignore illegal trade and home brewing.
The report intends on correcting these limitations by combining alcohol sales data with the prevalence of alcohol drinking and abstinence, self-reported data on the amount of alcohol consumed, tourism data to estimate the number of alcohol-drinking visitors to an area, and estimates of illicit trade and home brewing. The researchers also used more robust statistical models for analyzing alcohol consumption and the health problems related to it.
It was found that there were possible protective effects in the case of diabetes and ischemic stroke, but these results were not statistically significant.
But, the risk of developing other health problems increased with the number of alcoholic drinks consumed each day and the harmful effects far outweighed the potential benefits, the report stated.
Dr. Robyn Burton of King’s College London calls the research “the most comprehensive estimate of the global burden of alcohol use to date.”
“The conclusions of the study are clear and unambiguous: alcohol is a colossal global health issue and small reductions in health-related harms at low levels of alcohol intake are outweighed by the increased risk of other health-related harms, including cancer,” she wrote in an editorial.
This does not come as a surprise because there have been many skewed studies in the past regarding dairy and other products with the intent to benefit the manufacturers of those products.