Drink Less - Half A Unit Of Alcohol Is All You Need Per Day
So how much alcohol is too bad for you? That answer, of course, depends on a variety of factors such as diet and genes, but scientists may have figured out the answer to the opposite question: How much alcohol is good for you? Turns out a half a unit a day of alcohol might be the "optimal" level of consumption.
Currently, the recommended government amount is three to four units per day for men, and two to three units per day for women. Half a unit of alcohol is a quarter of a pint or a quarter of a glass of wine - not very much.
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Researchers arrived at the optimal level of half a drink a day by looking at alcohol amounts consumed associated with the lowest levels of chronic disease in the United Kingdom.
According to the Oxford University study, if alcohol consumption was lowered to just half a unit a day, 4,600 lives in the United Kingdom would be saved.
"Although there is good evidence that moderate alcohol consumption protects against heart disease, when all of the chronic disease risks are balanced against each other, the optimal consumption level is much lower than many people believe," says lead author Dr. Melanie Nichols of the BHF Health Promotion Research Group in the Department of Public Health at Oxford University.
To get the results, the team used a statistical model to analyze the correlation between different levels of alcohol and 11 conditions known to be linked to alcohol consumption. They used a 2006 household survey on English adults and their alcohol intake.
It seems that consuming half a unit of alcohol would prevent three percent of all deaths linked to these 11 conditions. Deaths related to heart disease would increase, but are offset by the decrease in deaths from cancer and cirrhosis of the liver.
"We are not telling people what to do, we are just giving them the best balanced information about the different health effects of alcohol consumption, so that they can make an informed decision about how much to drink," says Nichols.
"People who justify their drinking with the idea that it is good for heart disease should also consider how alcohol is increasing their risk of other chronic diseases. A couple of pints or a couple of glasses of wine per day is not a healthy option."