How Much Does Drinking Shorten Your Life?
There is no denying that continuously consuming alcohol can have long-lasting effects on the body. Studies have shown its negative impact on the heart, the brain and, most commonly, the liver. But could “casual drinking” also be doing damage? European researchers are saying yes and have issued stern warnings to anyone who regularly raises a glass.
The study started off outwardly dismissing the age old saying of “a glass of wine a day keeps the doctor away.” Their researchers (who were quoted in The Washington Post) made a point to criticize that notion and highlight the fact that serious health risks can begin for people who drink as little as five glasses a week.
Currently, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department says that women should consume no more than one drink per day and men shouldn’t touch more than two. This study contradicts that and has gotten some increased support within the American scientific community.
“Guidelines are very debatable things,” U.S. Public Health Institute rep William C. Kerr told The Post. “In addition to genetic variants among the population, there’s the issue that some people might take them not as guidelines, but as permission or recommendations to drink a certain amount, even if they shouldn’t drink at all. For those reasons, guidelines have to be conservative.”
The study then delved into just how much damage alcohol is causing to U.S. citizens. Though the opioid crisis is receiving a lot of attention at the moment (as it rightly should), it’s a little known fact that drinking still kills more Americans than painkiller overdoses. Roughly 88,000 people die each year in this country due to problems with alcohol abuse. And let’s not forget about the driving fatalities.
But what this study focused on was the long term effects, emphasizing that casual drinkers are still putting themselves at risk. Cirrhosis of the liver has become much more common in the last decade and can certainly impact people who claim to not be alcoholics. Long term light drinkers also were singled out as candidates for aortic aneurysms and even strokes. The truth is certain people, simply because of body type, may be more prone to developing these conditions.
And did you know that drinking has been linked to cancer diagnoses as well? The carcinogenic agents in alcoholic beverages include ethanol and acetaldehyde, which have been associated with cancers of the intestines, oral cavity and breasts.
As we’ve said many times in our blogs: Knowledge is power. Before you brush off any weekly casual drinking habits, do your research and get help if needed.