July 15: The first study to report alcohol risk by geographical region, age, sex, and year claims that young people below the age of 40 years face higher health risks from alcohol consumption including wine than older adults, according to a global study published in The Lancet journal last Friday
The Study, based on estimates of alcohol use in 204 countries and regions, with researchers claiming that 1.34 billion people consumed harmful quantities in 2020. It also suggests that global alcohol consumption recommendations should be based on age and location, with the strictest guidelines targeted towards males between ages 15-39, who are at the greatest risk of harmful alcohol consumption worldwide. About 60 per cent of alcohol-related injuries occur among people in this age group, including motor vehicle accidents, suicides, and homicides, according to this Study reported by PTI.
It also suggests that adults aged 40 years and older without underlying health conditions may actually enjoy some benefits from moderate wine and alcohol consumption defined as one and two standard drinks per day, including a reduced risk in cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes.
In every region, the largest segment of the population drinking unsafe amounts of alcohol were males aged 15-39 and for this age group, drinking alcohol does not provide any health benefits and presents many health risks, the researchers said.
"Our message is simple: young people should not drink, but older people may benefit from drinking small amounts,” said study senior author Emmanuela Gakidou, a professor in the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, US. It would not be realistic to think young adults will abstain from drinking but Gakidou says, ‘we do think it is important to communicate the latest evidence so that everyone can make informed decisions about their health."
The researchers looked at the risk of alcohol consumption on 22 health outcomes, including injuries, cardiovascular diseases, and cancers, using 2020 Global Burden of Disease data for males and females aged 15-95 years and older between 1990 and 2020, in 204 countries and territories. Researchers were able to estimate the average daily intake of alcohol that minimises risk to a population from this data.
The study also estimates how much alcohol a person can drink before taking on excess risk to their health compared to someone who does not drink any alcohol. The recommended amount of alcohol for people aged 15-39 before risking health loss was 0.136 standard drinks per day – slightly more than one-tenth of a standard drink. That amount was slightly higher for females aged 15-39 years at 0.273 drinks per day.
One standard drink is defined as 10 grams of pure alcohol, which is equivalent to a small glass of red wine (100ml) at 13 percent alcohol by volume, a can or bottle of beer (375 ml) at 3.5 per cent alcohol by volume, or a peg of whiskey or other spirits (30 ml) at 40 percent alcohol by volume.
In general, for individuals aged 40-64 years in 2020, safe alcohol consumption levels ranged from about half a standard drink per day (0.527 drinks for males and 0.562 standard drinks for females) to almost two standard drinks (1.69 standard drinks per day for males and 1.82 for females), they said.
For individuals over 65 years in 2020, the risks of health loss from alcohol consumption were arrived at after consuming a little more than three standard drinks per day (3.19 drinks for males and 3.51 for females).
The estimates suggest that small amounts of alcohol consumption in populations over 40 years of age without underlying conditions may be associated with improved health outcomes, particularly those facing a higher burden of cardiovascular diseases.
The young adults need to control their urges to binge or even drink bigger amounts than a tenth of a standard drink daily so that it does not harm their body. DelWine recommends for its readers in India and elsewhere to drink a glass of wine for females and up to 2 glasses (125 mL) a day with a gap of a couple of days during the week.
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