Over-drinking could take five years off your life, says study

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The study included dozens of researchers from around the world and almost 600,000 drinkers in 19 countries.

The drop in life expectancy for a 40-year-old who drinks between 100 and 200 grams is six months, on average, compared with someone who drinks between zero and 100 grams, the study found. Drinking 200 to 350 grams was associated with a one- to two-year decline in life expectancy, and drinking more than 350 grams corresponded to a four- to five-year drop, on average.

They said recommended alcohol limits should be lowered to around 12.5 units - equal to five glasses of wine or pints of beer - a week.

In the USA, the government says people who don't already drink shouldn't start.

Drinking more than one alcoholic beverage a day can take years off your life, a new worldwide study says. For instance, Spain and Romania set the upper limit for men at the equivalent of 20 drinks each week.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) says it is is reviewing the Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol 2009.

Study participants who said they consumed more than seven drinks per week had higher overall rates of mortality. There's variation from country to country as to how many grams of alcohol are generally found in a standard drink.

The study doesn't take into account the possibility of accompanying mental disorders, such as dementia, which could explain why people reduced their alcohol consumption over the follow-up period.

To drink alcoholic beverages to the mind. But the study found a striking linear relationship between alcohol intake and dying from any cause.

The researchers found that regularly drinking over this was linked to lower life expectancy.

Notably, the heavier drinkers were less likely to have a heart attack. Alcohol consumption was associated with a higher risk of stroke, heart failure, fatal aortic aneurysms, fatal hypertensive disease and heart failure and there were no clear thresholds where drinking less did not have a benefit. That may partly be because alcohol can increase blood pressure and change cholesterol levels, the researchers said.

Drinking 10 or more drinks every week was linked to one to two years shorter life expectancy. By contrast, alcohol consumption was associated with a slightly lower risk of non-fatal heart attacks. And it raises further questions about why the federal government is now recruiting subjects for a clinical trial, financed by the alcohol industry, to try to prove that alcohol prevents heart disease.

Rao, visiting lecturer in old age psychiatry at King's College London, told The Guardian the study "highlights the need to reduce alcohol related harm in baby boomers, an age group now at highest risk of rising alcohol misuse".

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states excessive alcohol use leads to, among other afflictions, heart disease, stroke and cancer.

'It's as if each unit above guidelines is taking, on average, 15 minutes of life - about the same as a cigarette, ' said David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge.