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Sunday, May 19, 2024

New study suggests improved health through reduced or eliminated alcohol consumption

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VICTORIA, Canada — Recent research suggests it’s time⁤ to reassess our relationship with alcohol.

While moderate drinking was once believed to be‌ beneficial for ⁤heart health, more sophisticated research⁢ techniques have debunked this theory.

“Reducing alcohol consumption is a fantastic strategy for improving health,”⁤ stated Dr. Timothy Naimi, the director of the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at⁢ the ​University of Victoria in British Columbia.

Although guidelines differ significantly across countries,⁣ the general trend is ⁤leaning ⁢towards reduced alcohol ⁤consumption.

Several countries including the United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Holland, and Australia have recently revised their alcohol consumption guidelines based on new evidence. Ireland is set to mandate cancer warning labels on alcohol from 2026.

“The scientific consensus has evolved due to the compelling evidence associating alcohol with over 200 health conditions, such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases,‌ and injuries,” commented Carina Ferreira-Borges, the regional adviser for alcohol at the World Health Organization regional​ office for Europe.

With initiatives like Dry​ January and Sober‌ October, and bartenders innovating with non-alcoholic cocktails, there’s a growing cultural shift towards reducing alcohol intake.

“People in my age group are much more open to the idea,” shared Tessa Weber, a ⁣28-year-old from Austin, Texas. She decided to participate in Dry January this year after noticing ⁤that alcohol was exacerbating her anxiety. She was pleased with the results — improved sleep, increased energy — and has decided to continue ‍with her reduced alcohol ‌intake.

“It’s beneficial to reassess your⁣ relationship with alcohol,” Weber added.

Previous ⁢studies that suggested benefits of moderate drinking were flawed, often comparing groups based on their drinking habits at ⁣a single point in time. These studies did not randomly assign participants to drink or abstain, making it impossible ⁤to establish a cause-effect relationship.

Dr. Naimi pointed out that moderate drinkers often have higher education levels, higher ⁣incomes, and better access to healthcare. “When you account for these factors, the supposed benefits of moderate drinking ⁢vanish,” ⁤he explained.

Another issue with these studies is that they often excluded younger participants. Nearly half of the deaths from alcohol-related causes occur before the age of 50.

“If you’re only studying individuals who have survived into middle age, haven’t quit drinking due to problems, and haven’t become‍ heavy⁤ drinkers,‌ you’re looking at a very specific group,” Naimi said. “This creates ⁤a false impression of benefits for moderate drinkers, which is essentially a⁣ statistical mirage.”

Other research contradicts the notion⁤ that alcohol has health benefits. These studies compare individuals with a gene variant that makes drinking unpleasant to those without the variant. Those with the variant tend‍ to⁢ drink very little or not at all. One such study found that individuals⁣ with⁢ the⁤ gene ‌variant have a lower risk of heart disease, further debunking the myth that alcohol protects against heart issues.

Alcohol consumption‍ increases the risk of several types of cancer, including colon, liver, breast, and mouth and throat. Alcohol metabolizes into a substance called acetaldehyde in the ‌body, which can harm cells and prevent them from repairing themselves, creating an environment conducive to cancer growth.

Dr. Naimi suggests that thousands of U.S. deaths could be prevented annually if people adhered to the government’s dietary guidelines, which ‍recommend men to limit themselves to two or fewer drinks per day ⁤and women‌ to one or fewer.

One drink is typically equivalent⁣ to ‌a 12-ounce can of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, or a shot of liquor.

Naimi was part of an⁢ advisory committee that proposed lowering the recommendation for men to one drink ⁣per day. However, this advice was overlooked when the federal recommendations were published in 2020.

“The‍ most straightforward message, backed by evidence, is that ⁤if you choose to drink, less is ​better for​ your⁤ health,” Naimi concluded.

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical ​Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Disagree – Alcohol can be enjoyed responsibly in moderation and even have some health benefits. Complete elimination may be unnecessary for overall well-being.

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