There are certain things that just seem to make life worth living. Included in that list is alcohol, and there are many people who enjoy a little indulgence, sometimes even on a daily basis. If you are somebody that likes to have a drink on occasion, you might be overjoyed when you hear this news from a recent study. As it turns out, individuals who are moderate to light drinkers have less of a chance of dying a premature death and they may even run a lower risk of cancer.
Of course, you won’t be able to throw all caution to the wind and drink as much as you want. You need to be a moderate or light drinker, which means having a few glasses of wine or beer every week. Many of us who enjoy having a beer to wind down in the evening or a glass of wine before we go to bed are now rejoicing over the fact that we can do so with a clear conscience.
This study comes from the researchers at Queens University, Belfast. The study was published in the PLOS Medicine Journal and it used 100,000 individuals in the United States between the ages of 55-74. They were studied for an average of nine years and the results are nothing short of incredible for those of us who enjoy having a drink every once in a while.
In order to be part of the study, the participants must take a dietary survey and answer some questions about their alcohol intake. This would include the present time in their life as well as other times in their life as well. The researchers would then compile the information and look at instances of a primary cancer diagnosis. This would include any cancer deaths that took place over the nine years following the study.
The participants were split into 8 different groups. They varied, depending upon how much alcohol they drank. On the low-end was the group that did not drink any alcohol. The upper end included heavy drinkers.
The research was rather telling. It showed that individuals who drank a little bit of alcohol had a lower risk of cancer and were less likely to die from any cause during the 9 years that followed the study. This was in comparison to those who drank more and those who drank less!
More specifically, the group that had 7 drinks a week or less were at the lowest risk of developing cancer or dying during that time.
Once you went over 7 drinks per week, your risk of cancer or dying increased. If you fell into the group that was a very heavy drinker, having 3 or more drinks a day, you had the highest risk of cancer. That risk was 21% more likely than the group that only had 7 drinks per week or less.
Heavy drinkers, which drank 2 or three drinks per day were 10% more likely to die early or to develop cancer.
If you only had one drink per week on average, you still had an 8% higher risk of dying compared to the light drinking group. Those who abstain from alcohol altogether still had a higher rate of death.
For those who were somewhat light drinkers and have between 3-5 drinks every week, there was no extra risk for dying prematurely. Light drinkers who had 5-7 drinks per week and moderate drinkers who had one or two drinks per day did have a slightly higher risk.
Risks for Consuming Alcohol
This is the first test that takes a detailed look at the average lifetime alcohol intakes from the test study. According to guidelines in the UK, a maximum of 14 drinks per week, including seven medium glasses wine or six points of beer is considered safe.
Dr. Andrew Kunzmann, who was an integral part of this study had the following to say:
“Previous studies have consistently found light to moderate drinkers live longer than lifetime teetotallers.”
“The evidence from cancer research gives a different impression – even light to moderate alcohol consumption is linked with an increased risk of cancer.
“These differences have led to confusing public health messages about the health impacts of light to moderate alcohol consumption and what counts as drinking in moderation.”
He hopes that these findings will send a clear message about the risks of consuming alcohol.
“To help give a clearer message, we decided to assess both cancer and mortality outcomes together, using the same methods and same population, to see what the overall link between alcohol and these major outcomes are.”
“Drinking alcohol is a personal choice and it is not our aim to tell people whether they can or can’t drink. The aim of this study is to provide robust evidence so that people can make informed, healthy decisions about their alcohol intake.”
Along with the good news, he also gave a word of warning:
“We urge caution in interpreting the results comparing light drinkers to lifetime teetotallers, though, as the reasons for the reduced risk of cancer or early death in light drinkers are still being debated by scientists.”
The debate continues but for those of us who enjoy having that glass of wine every night, it’s party time!