People over 40 can benefit from drinking up to two glasses of wine or bottles of beer daily
Scientists now say it’s safe to drink a glass of wine or a bottle of beer every day over the age of 40 – and it might even be good for you.
And they claim that gulping down two a night is unlikely to do any long-term harm to their health.
The study, published in The Lancet, is the latest proof that drinking in moderation is safe – amid an endless debate.
For years, adults have been confused by a series of conflicting studies.
But Washington University researchers, who have calculated how much people can drink before their health is at risk, insist that drinking in moderation has health benefits for middle-aged adults.
They claim that alcohol can help stave off heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and potentially stave off early death.
Scientists believe that moderate amounts of alcohol can increase levels of good cholesterol and antioxidants in the blood, which can improve heart health.
It’s also thought to improve blood sugar levels and increase levels of adiponectin — a hormone that improves insulin sensitivity and protects against type 2 diabetes.
Although those over 40 were given the green light to drink, those under 40 were advised to stay tee-total.
It offers them no health benefits and “poses many health risks,” increasing the risk of injury, car accidents and suicide, the researchers said.
Washington University researchers calculated how much people could drink before their health was at risk. They found that 40- to 64-year-olds who drank almost two small glasses of wine or bottles of beer a day would see no deterioration in their health
The maps show the proportion of the population consuming harmful amounts of alcohol by gender (male, left and female, right) and the age group they belong to
Younger men were told to stick to just 10ml of wine (two teaspoons) or 38ml of beer (a small shot glass), while women could drink two tablespoons of wine or 100ml of beer.
dr Emmanuela Gakidou, senior author of the study, said older people “may benefit from drinking small amounts,” while young people “should not drink.”
“While it’s not realistic to think young adults will stop drinking, we think it’s important to communicate the latest evidence so everyone can make informed decisions about their health,” she said.
How much alcohol is too much?
To keep the health risks from alcohol low, the NHS advises men and women not to drink more than 14 units per week on a regular basis.
A unit of alcohol is 8g or 10ml of pure alcohol, which is approximately:
- 1/2 pint of lager/beer/cider of light to regular strength (ABV 3.6%)
- a single small schnapps measure (25 ml) Spirits (25 ml, ABV 40%)
A small glass (125 ml, 12% vol.) of wine contains about 1.5 units of alcohol.
However, the NHS warns that drinking alcohol in any quantity on a regular basis increases your risk to your health.
Short-term risks include injury, violent behavior, and alcohol intoxication.
Long-term risks include heart and liver disease, stroke, and liver, colon, moth, and breast cancer.
Individuals who drink up to 14 units per week are advised to spread them out evenly over three or more days rather than binge drinking.
Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant are advised not to drink to reduce the risk to the baby.
Brits are currently being told not to drink more than 14 units a week, which is around six pints of beer or 10 small glasses of wine.
Research has produced mixed results on the health risks and benefits of drinking alcohol.
Studies have shown that abstainers are at higher risk of early death than those who consume alcohol in moderation.
But drinking too much can increase your risk of cancer, heart disease, and liver disease.
And studies have even claimed light consumption is dangerous because it has previously been linked to cancer and poor brain health. It has led some to urge people to avoid alcohol altogether.
It is estimated that about 1.78 million people died from drinking alcohol worldwide in 2020, with men aged 15 to 49 years most at risk.
Washington University researchers examined the Global Burden of Disease database, which contains health information and trends worldwide.
Based on this, they created a model to calculate when the risks of drinking outweighed the benefits.
Adults aged 40 to 64 can drink between half and two standard drinks a day – classified as those containing 10g of pure ethanol – before their habit posed a risk.
Meanwhile, people over 65 could drink up to 3.5 drinks a day without their health deteriorating.
The researchers said a standard drink is equivalent to a small glass of red wine, a can or bottle of beer, or a shot of whiskey or other spirits.
Among those aged 15 to 39, men could only drink 0.136 drinks per day – equivalent to 10ml of wine (two teaspoons) or 38ml of beer (a small shot glass).
Women in the cohort were able to drink slightly more, at 0.273 drinks, equivalent to about two tablespoons of wine or 100mL of beer.
‘Any level of alcohol consumption leads to a higher likelihood of injury, while small amounts of alcohol reduce the risk of some diseases that are prevalent in old age, such as ischemic heart disease and diabetes,’ the authors write.
Young people have been found to be most at risk of alcohol harm.
Six in 10 of those who drink harmful amounts of alcohol were aged 15 to 39, with 1 billion being men and 300 million women.
Harmful alcohol use was highest among young men in Australasia, Western Europe and Central Europe.
Overall, recommended alcohol intake for adults remained low, ranging from zero to 1.87 standard drinks per day, regardless of region, age, or gender.
dr Gakidou said: “Although the risks associated with alcohol use are similar for men and women, young men stood out as the group with the highest levels of harmful alcohol use.
“This is because a larger proportion of men than women consume alcohol and their average consumption is also significantly higher.”
The researchers noted that their alcohol risk results were based on data that did not differentiate between those who drank for several days and those who engaged in binge drinking.
And alcohol consumption was self-reported, so may contain inaccuracies, they said.
Lead author Dana Bryazka, a researcher at the university’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, said even when alcohol guidelines use the lowest level of safe consumption, the results suggest that the recommended level of alcohol consumption for younger populations is still below is too high. ‘