That Extra Glass of Wine Might Take 30 Minutes Off Your Life

Drinking more than five glasses of wine a week could knock years off life, study suggests

At 40 years of age, those who had an intake of between seven and 14 drinks per week had a six-month-lower estimated life expectancy than those who drank fewer than seven.

There is still a small benefit to drinking, which has been much flagged in the past.

This likelihood of an early death increases the more alcohol is consumed, the Cambridge-led researchers said.

The study included data from 600,000 drinkers in 19 countries.

The findings support recently lowered guidelines in the United Kingdom, which suggest there is no safe level and recommend that both men and women's drinking should not exceed 14 units a week.

About half of those studied reported drinking more than 12.5 units a week - roughly five pints or medium glasses of wine - while nearly one in ten (8.5 per cent) consumed more than triple that amount. You could think of that as about an hour per day, or just under half an hour per extra drink. So it's as if each unit above guidelines is taking, on average, about 15 minutes of life, about the same as a cigarette.

In contrast, drinking more was associated with a lower risk of non-fatal heart attacks.

'Of course it's up to individuals whether they think this is worthwhile'.

In fact, an worldwide study by the Lancet medical journal found that drinking alcohol multiple times a week may shorten your lifespan.

According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, a standard drink in the U.S.is a 12 fl oz. can of regular (5 percent alcohol) beer, a 5 fl oz. glass of 12 percent wine or a 1.5 fl oz. shot of a 40-percent distilled spirit like vodka or whiskey.

One resident of Shelton, commented: "I would say it's fairly accurate, but it's probably not going to affect my drinking habits for the next five years whilst I'm still at University".

Tim Chico, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Sheffield, told The Guardian he wouldn't be surprised if the heaviest drinkers lost as many years of life as smokers.

The good news is we don't have to stop drinking.

In spite of the massive number of participants, the study was limited in a number of ways.

Victoria Taylor, senior dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, said the study seemed to "broadly reinforce" Government guidelines.

Around half of the almost 600,000 participants said they consumed the equivalent of more than of seven alcoholic drinks per week, while almost 10 percent reported drinking more than 25.

In a commentary in the Lancet, Profs Jason Connor and Wayne Hall from the University of Queensland Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research in Australia, anticipated that the suggestion of lowering recommended drinking limits will come up against opposition. "Nonetheless, the findings ought to be widely disseminated and they should provoke informed public and professional debate".

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