Is it better to have a cup of meringue at dinner than to abstain? It is a common opinion, but without a strong scientific basis, according to a new analysis.
Researchers at the University of Victoria, the results of 107 studies that involve more than 4.8 million participants, determined that, compared to the life of nondrinkers, those who drink moderately, less than 25 pp. of alcohol, or less than two drinks per day – did. lower risk of mortality.
Tim Stockwell, co-author of the analysis and a researcher at the University of Victoria, said “the evidence for health benefits is increasingly weak” when it comes to drinking small amounts.
“We only require that there be very credible scientific evidence or scientific studies suggesting health benefits,” Stockwell added.
Dr. Noelle LoConte, an oncologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who was not involved in the research, said she often sees patients who believe a drink or two might be helpful.
“The number one pushback I have is, ‘Well, maybe a little wine helps with your heart disease risk,'” he said. But from his perspective, LoConte added, Stockwell’s analysis “clearly helps us define that there probably isn’t a health benefit to alcohol.”
However, the new analysis found an increased risk of death among people who drank 45 or more units of alcohol per day, about three or more drinks.
The results also suggest that the risks associated with drinking depend on a person’s sex. Women who drank two or more drinks per day were shown to have an increased risk of mortality compared to women who never drank. Meanwhile, men who drank three or more drinks per day saw an elevated risk for erectile dysfunction compared to nondrinkers.
“It’s probably clear that women’s bodies process alcohol differently. Their alcohol consumption is smaller, on average,” Stockwell said. “However, the other thing is that men, on average, drink more than women and because they tolerate it more and get away more effectively, it can also be less harmful per unit of alcohol.”
The idea of a glass of wine did not appear out of thin air. Some previous studies had suggested this those who drink in moderation are less likely die of heart disease or * other reasons than those who abstain from alcohol or drink heavily.
Emmanuela Gakidou, a professor of health metrics at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, said her own research has shown that small amounts of alcohol are associated with a lower risk of heart disease and ischemic stroke.
Stockwell’s analysis, Gakidou said, “definitely not showing that small drinks are harmful.”
One reason for the discrepancy between the new analysis and past research is that Stockwell and his team excluded people who had quit drinking. While it is quite common to stop drinking due to health problems or the use of certain drugs, such people can slip into the study of incorporation and give the impression that abstinence from alcohol makes people less healthy.
“People who drink continuously tend to look relatively healthy,” Stockwell said.
Researchers who study the health effects of alcohol agree on at least two things. For who binge drinking – defined as five or more drinks per day for men or at least four for women – is not healthy. Second, experts generally agree that it is difficult to make public health recommendations about alcohol limits based on recent evidence.
World Health Organization declared the year that no amount of alcohol is safe for his safety. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends so that, if they want to drink, men consume two drinks or less per day, and women drink one drink per day or less. The CDC defines a drink as a 12-ounce glass of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, or a 1.5-ounce glass of distilled spirits such as brandy or vodka.
But both Stockwell and LoConte said that when it comes to cancer, any alcohol intake can raise your risk.
“Alcohol has been a carcinogen for as long as carcinogens,” LoConte said. “It’s similar to things like smoking, UV light, hepatitis B and human papillomavirus or HPV.”
LoConte added that he is concerned about the recent rise in alcohol intake among women in the U.S. The number of women who report having heavy drinking days — defined as four or more drinks within two hours — rose 41% from 2019 to 2020; according to * surveys from the RAND Corporation, a non-profit think tank.
“Alcohol use is skyrocketing after the pandemic, especially among women,” LoConte said. “We’re doing more liver transplants for alcoholic hepatitis, which is an acute poison to the liver of alcohol, than we’ve done.”
But Gakidou said that as a general principle, people who drink in moderation should not worry too much about their health.
“If you drink with a conscience, and you drink a little, I don’t think people feel guilty about it,” he said.