If you love having cocktails, a cold beer or a glass of wine, a new world study might challenge your thoughts on consuming alcohol if you’re under the age of 40. The study found that — for people between the ages of 15 to 39 — there are only health risks associated with drinking alcohol.
The study looked at men and women aged 15 to 95 years between 1990 and 2020 across 204 different countries. Researchers found that for people under the age of 40, the recommended amount of alcohol they can drink without extra health risks is only about 15mL of wine or 50mL of beer.
For the people aged 15-39, the research found that 60 per cent of alcohol-related injuries (including motor vehicle accidents and homicides) occur among people in this age group.
“Our message is simple: young people should not drink, but older people may benefit from drinking small amounts,” 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, said in a press release. “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.”
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Consuming alcohol has some benefits for people over 40
For people older than 40, the study reported that consuming a small amount of alcohol such as one to two 3.4-ounce (100mL) glasses of red wine can provide health benefits, including lowering the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, provided that they do not have underlying health conditions.
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Study authors want revised alcohol consumption guidelines
The study’s authors indicate that alcohol consumption guidelines should be revised to “emphasize consumption levels by age, stressing that the level of alcohol consumption recommended by many existing guidelines is too high for young people in all regions.”
They are also pointing out that because men under 40 are most at risk for harmful alcohol consumption — 1 billion males were drinking harmful amounts of alcohol in 2020 — there should be policies in place aimed at them.
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The research on alcohol consumption was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and is part of a larger Global Burden of Disease study. The study is the first of its kind, as it assesses the alcohol consumption risks by geographic region, age, sex and year.
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