Booze Study Shatters the Myth of Healthy Moderate Drinking

The best amount of alcohol to drink is no alcohol at all.

According to the government-issued 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, “moderate drinking” means two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women. But University of Washington global health professor Emmanuela Gakidou, Ph.D., says this standard for healthy drinking is baloney. One or two drinks a day aren’t healthy, Gakidou told Inverse in August, and she’s co-authored a study that “shatters” that myth.

Gakidou’s conclusion, published in The Lancet, is one of the most surprising things we learned about human health this year predominantly because of the longstanding idea that drinking alcohol can sometimes be a healthy act. Previous reports claimed that “moderate” drinking was good for the heart and circulatory system, and a number of studies have demonstrated very limited drinking can be beneficial to the body. But the science is shifting — and things don’t look great for lushes.

This story is #16 on Inverse’s 25 Most Surprising Human Discoveries Made in 2018.

lady drinking
This lady isn't doing herself any favors.

Analysis conducted by Gakidou and her team revealed that the best amount of alcohol to drink is no alcohol at all. The scientists incorporated 694 data sources on individual and population-level alcohol consumption, 592 retrospective studies on the risk of alcohol use, and data from the 2016 Global Burden of Diseases study. That annual analysis, which looked at health outcomes between 1990 and 2016 for 195 countries and territories, found that 12 percent of male deaths between the ages of 15 and 49 were linked to alcohol. Overall, the scientists found that any amount of alcohol use was linked to worsening health conditions; and the more people drink, the more likely they’ll face negative health consequences.

“We found a whole battery of cancers, injuries, and mental health disorders all associated with alcohol use,” lead author Max Griswold, Ph.D., told Inverse.

This isn’t to say that people should absolutely stop consuming any amount of alcohol. The point is that if you choose to drink, know that there are risks, and understand that drinking booze isn’t doing you any health favors. We don’t eat cake thinking that it’s good for us — having a beer shouldn’t be treated any differently.

As 2018 winds down, Inverse is highlighting 25 surprising things we learned about humans this year. These stories told us weird stuff about our bodies and brains, uncovered insights into our social lives, and illuminated why we’re such complicated, wonderful, and weird animals. This story was #15. Read the original story here.