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“There is no safe level of alcohol use” – The Lancet

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The Lancet, the world’s most respected scientific and medical journal, reports that there is no ‘safe’ level of alcohol consumption in a new report.  The journal has editorial offices in London, New York, and Beijing. The findings of the study were released yesterday (Thursday).

The report follows up on evidence collected in an analysis of 2016 global alcohol consumption and disease risks. The Lancet study, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, uses data from the 2016 Global Burden of Disease report, which included information on premature death and disability from over 300 diseases by sex and age in 195 countries over a 26 year period.

Some of the key points in the report conclude…

• In 2016, alcohol was the leading risk factor for disease and premature death in men and women between the ages of 15 and 49 worldwide

• Alcohol accounts for nearly one in 10 deaths, according to the study

• For all ages, alcohol was associated with 2.8 million deaths that year

• Deaths include alcohol-related cancer and infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, cardiovascular diseases, intentional injury such as violence and self-harm, as well as traffic accidents and other unintentional injuries( such as drowning and fires)

• Alcohol in breast milk may lead to lower cognition in kids

Denmark, Norway, Germany and Argentina led the way in world-wide consumption of alcohol during 2016. In Denmark 97% of men and 95% of women said they consumed alcohol in the year of the study.

The report alludes to the enormous costs to society in policing, regulation, domestic violence and health costs related to alcohol use and abuse.

One of the study’s key authors says that the most surprising finding was that even small amounts of alcohol use contributed to health loss.

“We’re used to hearing that a drink or two a day is fine. But the evidence is the evidence.”

The report shows that China, India and Russia led the world in alcohol-related deaths in men and women during 2016, partly according to their pollution sizes. The United States ranks fifth among men and seventh among women, the UK ranked 21st for men and ninth for women.

David Spiegelhalter, the Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge, is quoted in a CNN report saying that the report doesn’t take into account some of the social benefits that alcohol may provide.

“Given the pleasure presumably associated with moderate drinking, claiming there is no ‘safe’ level does not seem an argument for abstention. There is no safe level of driving, but governments do not recommend that people avoid driving,”

King’s College London alcohol researcher Robyn Burton describes the study “state-of-the-art.”

“The conclusions of the study are clear and unambiguous: alcohol is a colossal global health issue,” Burton wrote.

In a statement trying to counter some of the report’s findings, the Alcohol Information Partnership, a group comprising eight of the world’s biggest liquor companies, released a statement saying…

“Nothing in this study challenges the array of studies suggesting that choosing to drink moderately is associated with a decreased risk of some health issues and a lower risk of death. We advocate sensible drinking by those who choose to drink and support consistent, evidence-based advice, which enables people to make their own informed choices about alcohol.”

SOURCES: The Lancet, CNN

 

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