It seems that every time there is a link between alcohol and improved health the media jump all over it, seemingly trying to convince everyone that if you drink alcohol you’re more likely to live longer than if you don’t.
The latest headlines come from a University of California study of people in their 90s, that found that those that drank two alcoholic beverages a day lived longer. The study certainly seems to have merit – it involved 14,000 people and was carried out over more than 25 years – but even one of the co-principal investigators couldn’t provide an explanation.
“I have no explanation for it,” said Dr Claudia Kawas in a recent Live Science article, “but I do firmly believe that modest drinking is associated with longevity.”
What you take out of this and other studies that have shown a link between alcohol and improved health is up to you, however, there is one section in Dr Kawas’ statement that should be in bold and underlined, and that is “modest drinking”. That is, while moderate intake of alcohol may improve health, research shows that the more alcohol you drink the more likely it is to have an adverse effect on your health.
The article also quotes Dr Kawas as saying, “Keep in mind that I start studying people when they’re 90. I think it’s very likely that individuals who have very excessive alcohol intake at younger ages don’t even make it to their 90s.”
We know, for example, that:
- Around 79% of those who took part in the most recent Global Drug Survey said they either don’t know the safe drinking limits or choose to ignore them.
- 88,000 Americans die from alcohol-related illnesses annually.
- Alcohol has been linked to brain impairment, a suppressed immune system, an increased risk of developing heart disease, reduced liver function, stomach irritation and stomach cancer, damage to the pancreas, bowel and kidneys, reduced sex drive and performance and detrimental effects on the skin.
- Alcohol has been linked to an increased risk of contracting seven types of cancers.
- Drinking to excess increases the risk of you injuring yourself and others.
- Drinking alcohol can lead to you making silly decisions, such as driving a car of going to work while under the influence, and potentially getting caught in alcohol testing.
Sobering messages to think about, next time you’re taking a drink of alcohol!