There has long been a debate over whether or not some alcohol can be good for you. Studies have shown that light to moderate drinking can decrease the risk of heart attack, ischemic (clot-caused) stroke, peripheral vascular disease, sudden cardiac death, and death from all cardiovascular causes. Gallstones and type 2 diabetes were also reported to be less common in moderate drinkers than non-drinkers. However, one recently released investigation suggests that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption, when compared to the possible health risks.
In August 2018, a study was published in the medical journal the Lancet, titled “Alcohol use and burden for 195 countries and territories, 1990–2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016.” In it, researchers looked at levels of alcohol use and its health effects on 15 to 95-year-olds in 195 countries between 1990 and 2016. In comparing people who abstained completely to people to had one drink per day, they found that out of 100,000 non-drinkers, 914 would develop a health problem that is often attributed to alcohol users, such as cancer or an injury from a fall. An additional four people were affected if they had one drink a day. With two drinks, the number rose to 977. When people had five drinks per day, it was 1252. Globally, alcohol use was the seventh leading risk factor for death across all populations. When the group was narrowed to people between the ages of 15 to 49, alcohol became the number one factor.
In young people, the three leading causes of alcohol-related death were tuberculosis, road injuries, and self-harm. Drinking alcohol was a leading cause of cancer for people older than 50. The authors don’t deny that alcohol may help prevent heart disease and other conditions, but they say that the potential to develop cancer or other serious illnesses is greater than any possible benefits.
Critics say that just because there is no level that is completely safe, that doesn’t mean people should stop drinking completely if they don’t have alcohol dependence or addiction. After all, they point out, nothing in life is 100 percent guaranteed to be safe, but we don’t all barricade ourselves in our homes rather than go out and live life. According to dietary guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as having up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. While this is considered by most to be a safe limit, the guidelines do make a point to say that they don’t recommend that anyone who doesn’t drink alcohol starts drinking for any reason.
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