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Support for study that says there is no safe level of alcohol consumption

Published: 29 August 2018
Alcohol impact study
Support for study that says there is no safe level of alcohol consumption

A Southampton Professor has praised an international study into the effects of drinking alcohol saying it is considered “the most comprehensive estimate of the global burden of alcohol to date.”

The Global Burden of Disease study, which was published in The Lancet, looked at levels of alcohol use and its health effects in 195 countries, including the UK, between 1990 and 2016. 

It found that that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption. The researchers admit moderate drinking may protect against heart disease but found that the risk of cancer and other diseases outweighs these protections.

In an accompanying editorial, published alongside the study, Professor Nick Sheron, from the University of Southampton and Robyn Burton from King’s College London, said the research produces “a definitive understanding of alcohol-related harm.”

They go on to say that: “The conclusions of the study are clear and unambiguous: alcohol is a colossal global health issue and small reductions in health-related harms at low levels of alcohol intake are outweighed by the increased risk of other health-related harms, including cancer.”

Professor Sheron also writes that the most effective and cost-effective means to reduce alcohol-related harms are to reduce affordability through taxation or price regulation, including setting a minimum price per unit (MUP), closely followed by marketing regulation, and restrictions on the physical availability of alcohol.

The study analysed data from 15 to 95-year-olds, the researchers compared people who did not drink at all with those who had one alcoholic drink a day. They found that out of 100,000 non-drinkers, 914 would develop an alcohol-related health problem such as cancer or suffer an injury. But an extra four people would be affected if they drank one alcoholic drink a day. For people who had two alcoholic drinks a day, 63 more developed a condition within a year and for those who consumed five drinks every day, there was an increase of 338 people, who developed a health problem.


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