The study, which was published on Friday in the scientific journal ‘The Lancet’, found that even drinking alcohol in moderation shortens life expectancy and increases risks of cardiovascular diseases, strokes and various other diseases.
The guidelines for alcohol consumption are also too high in many countries, including Germany, the study states. More than 100 grams of pure alcohol per week – which corresponds to about five and a half glasses of wine or 2.5 litres of beer – contributes to a decline in health.
According to the German Nutrition Society (DGE), 140 grams for men and 70 grams for women are considered the tolerable weekly pure alcohol consumption values.
Germans over the age of 15 consume an average of 10.7 litres of pure alcohol per year, an analysis in the newest addition of the annual book ‘Sucht’ (Addition) reveals. This corresponds to about 165 grams per week – far higher than the amount the study recommends.
“The central message of this research for public health is that if you drink alcohol, reduced consumption can help you live longer and reduce your risk of multiple cardiovascular diseases,” says lead researcher Angela Wood from Cambridge University.
From a quantity of 100 grams per week, intake of pure alcohol shortens life expectancy in both men and women. Increased alcohol consumption is moreover associated with a greater risk of stroke, heart failure, high blood pressure and deadly aortic aneurysms, according to the study.
Scientists in the health sector who were not involved in the study support its findings.
“This study has great significance due to its sample size,” said Hans-Jürgen Rumpf, former president of an addition research and therapy association (DG-Sucht).
“The recommendation of 100 grams per week should lead to a rethink and downward revision of the limit values for men,” Rumpf added.
Cornelia Lange from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) emphasizes that the results should “serve as a stimulus to review and, if necessary, revise the German guidelines.”
An international team comprised of several German scientists analyzed 83 studies from 19 affluent countries involving almost 600,000 participants to complete their research.
The amount of alcohol consumption among participants was monitored and recorded for at least one year. Data analysis took age, gender, tobacco use, diabetes and other factors related to cardiovascular disease into account.