Alcohol users are at high risk for developing chronic illnesses including hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and various cancers. A new study by Oxford University suggests that cutting alcohol consumption to five grams a day could save approximately 4,600 lives a year in England.
Dr. Melanie Nichols led the team at Oxford University. Researchers studied data from the 2006 General Household Survey, which contained weekly drinking patterns of 15,000 adults in England. In 2006, 29 percent of adults in England drank less than one gram per day. The number of alcohol associated death was 170,558.
The team used mathematical models to study the correlation of death rates and eleven alcohol-related illnesses. “Over 4,000 deaths could be prevented if drinkers reduced their average level of alcohol consumption to five grams per day. ” says Dr. Melanie Nichols.
The UK government currently provides a guideline of recommended daily alcohol consumption to the public: 24-32 grams per day for men and 16-24 grams per day for women. However, the study suggests a much lower level of optimum alcohol consumption. Five grams of alcohol is as little as a quarter of glass of wine or a quarter of a pint. Researchers believe it is the ideal daily alcohol consumption for an adult to prevent alcohol associated diseases. According to the calculation, 4,579 premature deaths or three percent of all deaths from the eleven conditions could be prevented or at least delayed by cutting alcohol consumption to five grams per day.
There is a myth that moderate alcohol consumption helps protect against heart disease. In the study, researchers wrote “when multiple conditions are considered simultaneously, the levels of alcohol that would actually be likely to be associated reduced risk of chronic disease are much lower than is generally accepted or recommended by government”. However, they do not recommend non-drinkers to start drinking alcohol for health benefits because there are much safer ways of protecting heart.