While overindulgence could dig you an early grave, a daily alcoholic drink may neither be harmful nor offer any health benefits, according to a new study of 4.8 million people.
The benefits and drawbacks of alcohol have been much debated. While some studies claim that even a small portion can lead to death, others say it has health benefits.
Researchers from the universities of Victoria and Portsmouth in Canada and UK respectively, conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 107 studies published between 1980 and 2021.
The findings showed that low and moderate drinkers have similar mortality rates to those who abstain entirely. On the other hand, women who enjoy more than one standard drink per day are at least 20 per cent likely to die prematurely.
“In this updated systematic review and meta-analysis, daily low or moderate alcohol intake was not significantly associated with all-cause mortality risk,” the researchers wrote in the paper, published on the JAMA Open Network.
However, “increased risk was evident at higher consumption levels, starting at lower levels for women than men,” they added.
The study also found no significant protective associations of occasional or low-volume drinking (moderate drinking) with all-cause mortality.
But it showed an increased risk of all-cause mortality for drinkers who drank 25 g or more and a significantly increased risk when drinking 45 g or more per day.
When they looked at previous studies that suggest people who drink a little are less likely to die early or from heart disease than people who don’t drink at all, they found the evidence was skewed by systematic bias.
“For example, light and moderate drinkers are systematically healthier than current abstainers on a range of health indicators unlikely to be associated with alcohol use, (like) dental hygiene, exercise routines, diet, weight (and) income,” they wrote. (IANS)