People who follow government guidelines to have a drink or so a day could be drinking themselves into an early grave, researchers said this week. Any more than five drinks a week on average can take years off a person’s life, the new study of more than half a million people around the world shows. A drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, four ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits.
An international team of researchers looked at data from 600,000 people in 19 countries, who were asked about drinking habits dating back as long ago as 1964. They were followed for years afterward. People who reported drinking more had higher rates of stroke, heart disease, deadly high blood pressure and fatal aortic aneurysms, the team reported in the Lancet Medical Journal.
“The paper estimates a 40-year-old drinking four units a day above the guidelines has roughly two years lower life expectancy,” said David Spiegelhalter, a risk expert at Britain’s University of Cambridge who was not involved in the study.