Under 40? Even moderate alcohol consumption could be dangerous

A recent study, published in the journal The Lancet reveals that under the age of 40, there are no benefits associated with drinking alcohol.

A recent US study sounds the alarm over the health risks of alcohol. Even when consumed in small quantities, alcohol reportedly increases the risk of disease, particularly among people aged 15 to 39 years.

Drinking among young people is often a cause for concern due to the perils of excess. Now, a study, published in mid-July in the journal The Lancet and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, reveals that under the age of 40, there are no benefits — only risks — associated with drinking alcohol. However, past the age of 40, drinking a small amount of alcohol may have modest health benefits.

The research, which was conducted in more than 204 countries, estimates that 1.34 billion people drank unhealthy amounts of alcohol in 2020. Of these, nearly 60% were between 15 and 39 years old, and more than 76% were men (that’s one billion men).

According to the study authors, people under 40 appear not to benefit from drinking alcohol, with its consumption only causing health risks. Some 60% of alcohol-related injuries occur in the 15-39 age group (suicides, homicides, road accidents, etc.), and that’s without considering addiction issues, high blood pressure, heart disease, liver problems and certain types of cancer.

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After the age of 40, drinking alcohol is thought to have small benefits, provided the person does not have underlying health problems. Drinking alcohol in moderation may reduce the risk of diabetes, stroke and ischemic heart disease, for example.

The recommended daily amount of alcohol for young people aged 15 to 39 before risking health loss should be about 10 ml for a glass of red wine (13% alcohol by volume) and less than 50 ml for beer (3.5%) for men. Women could drink up to 25 ml of red wine and less than 100 ml of beer.

For people aged 40 to 64, the recommendations would range from half a standard drink to two standard drinks per day (one standard drink is 100 ml of red wine and 375 ml of beer).

“Our message is simple: young people should not drink, but older people may benefit from drinking small amounts. While it may not be realistic to think young adults will abstain from drinking, we do think it’s important to communicate the latest evidence so that everyone can make informed decisions about their health,” says senior author Dr. Emmanuela Gakidou, Professor of Health Metrics Sciences at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine.

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