No health benefits of alcohol for young people, few for older people: Study

It can now be said with scientific certainty that alcohol is bad for you.

A new University of Washington study found that ingestion carries significant health risks, with few benefits for people over 40 and none for younger people, according to a news release published by EurekAlert.

The study, which was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and published in the British medical journal The Lancet, said it was the first of its kind to assess alcohol risk broken down by geographic region, age, gender and age.

It looked at 22 health outcomes – such as injuries, cardiovascular disease and cancer – using data on the 2020 global burden of disease for men and women aged 15-95 and older between 1990 and 2020 in 204 countries and territories.

For young people aged 15-39, the recommended daily alcohol intake is around one tenth of a standard drink for men and one quarter of a standard drink for women.

The study defined a standard drink as a small glass of wine at 13% alcohol by volume (ABV), a can of beer at 3.5% ABV, or a glass of whiskey at 40% ABV.

The researchers said they hope the data will be used to revise alcohol consumption guidelines, particularly as they relate to young people.

“Our message is simple: young people shouldn’t drink, but older people can benefit from drinking small amounts,” said senior author Emmanuela Gakidou, professor of health indicators at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. . Medicine, said a news release announcing the study. “While it may not be realistic to think that young adults will abstain from drinking, we feel it is important to communicate the latest evidence so that everyone can make informed decisions about their health.”

An estimated 59% of people who drank harmful amounts of alcohol in 2020 were between the ages of 15-39, according to the survey, with nearly 77% being men. In hard numbers, that was over one billion men, along with just over 300 million women.

Young men suffered 60% of alcohol-related injuries in this group, with causes such as motor vehicle crashes, suicides and homicides included in this study.

Harmful alcohol use is particularly concentrated among young men in Australia, as well as in Western and Central Europe.

“Although the risks associated with alcohol consumption are similar for men and women, young men stand out as the group with the highest level of harmful alcohol consumption,” Ms Gakidou said in the release. “This is because a higher proportion of men than women consume alcohol and their average level of consumption is also significantly higher.”

For those over 40 without any underlying health problems, drinking small amounts of alcohol can lead to benefits such as a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

The researchers acknowledged some limitations of their study, such as the lack of assessment of drinking patterns — meaning it did not distinguish between those who drink heavily, albeit infrequently, and those who drink the same amount more consistently.

Its data also relied on self-reporting of alcohol consumption, which made it vulnerable to bias, and could not collect data on consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic due to collection delays.

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