Drinking This Much Alcohol Could Shorten Your Life by 5 Years, Says Study
It's no secret that alcohol consumption soared during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a study of 6,000 Americans conducted by the Rand Corporation's American Life Panel and published on JAMA Network Open last year, the number of binge drinking has increased significantly since the COVID-related bans began, especially among female respondents. Another survey conducted by Blue Cross Blue Shield found that alcohol consumption rose 23 percent overall in the first few months of the pandemic - not just about binge drinking. In addition, a survey by The Recovery Village, updated last December, found that 55 percent of respondents said they had consumed alcohol in the previous month, 18 percent a significant increase. "In the states hardest hit by the coronavirus (NY, NJ, MA, RI, CT), 67 percent reported an increase in alcohol use in the past month," the report said.
With increasing evidence that alcohol consumption is widespread, it's important to be aware of the potential health consequences for people who drink more. "In addition to a number of negative associations with physical health, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to or exacerbate existing mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression, that can increase during COVID-19 itself," noted Rand Corporation researchers.
As we previously reported, the dangerous side effects of daily alcohol consumption are numerous and include a higher risk of heart disease, a higher risk of infertility, osteoporosis, liver damage, and prolonged speech weakness. However, according to a recent study in The Lancet magazine, there is one even bigger side effect that a heavy drinker should consider every time they make a cocktail at home or sneak into a bar: they could cut your life by years.
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The study relied on data from around 600,000 alcohol drinkers and monitored their health over a period of time. Ultimately, the researchers concluded that drinking more alcohol was linked to a higher risk of heart failure, stroke, aneurysms, and even death - regardless of the sex of the person drinking. According to their calculations, adults who drink seven to 14 drinks a week can shorten their lives by six months, adults who drink 14 to 15 drinks a week can cut their lives by one to two years, and heavier drinkers who drink excessively Drinking 25 drinks a week can shorten your life by four to five years.
Scientists have long known that light sipping, defined as one to three drinks a week, can be healthy and actually have benefits. A study published in PLOS Medicine found that those who followed the guidelines above actually had a lower risk of cancer or death than those who actually had one drink a week or did not drink at all. That being said, the authors of the study in the Lancet study stated succinctly: "Our results show that the safest drinking level is not one."
If you find that your drinking habits are getting out of hand, it may be time to seek professional help. According to doctors, one of the best ways to find out is to simply try to stop and measure your success. "Don't drink for a month," advises Dr. Robert Doyle, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and co-author of Almost Alcoholic. "If this is difficult for you, then maybe it is a problem. Or ask the people around you what they think. If it worries them, then it is a significant problem." And no matter how much you drink, according to experts, avoid the most dangerous alcoholic drink for your body.
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