“Just a little sip each!” If the latest study is anything to go by, those under 40 should stick strictly to the legendary quote from the German classic film Die Feuerzangenbowle from 1944.
More specifically: Younger women should drink no more than two tablespoons of wine or 100 milliliters of beer a day, write an international team of researchers in the scientific journal The Lancet.
The recommendation for younger men is even more drastic: at most one shot glass (40 ml) of beer or two teaspoons of wine.
The different recommendations on the “healthy” consumption of alcohol
How much alcohol a day is still healthy is probably one of the most studied questions. The extent to which alcohol has a beneficial effect on health is analyzed just as often.
“Moderate alcohol consumption for healthy adults usually means up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men,” according to the reputable Mayo Clinic in the United States. One drink is considered to be 355 milliliters of beer or 148 milliliters of wine, so two 0.33-liter bottles of beer a day would be perfectly acceptable for men.
For its part, the British NHS health service recommends a maximum of 14 units of alcohol per week, the equivalent of 6 pints of beer or 10 small glasses of wine. And the Robert Koch Institute writes: “The limits of risky alcohol consumption are more than 10 grams a day for women and 20 grams for men.” 10 grams of pure alcohol is equivalent to a small glass of beer, a glass of sparkling wine or a double shot of brandy.
New study breaks gender assumptions
Now the study The Lancet Not only does this information now contradict, but also the assumption that men can safely tolerate more alcohol than women. Scientists write that the situation is different for people over 40 years of age. In this age group, a drink or two may even help prevent heart disease, stroke and diabetes. The evaluation showed that the amount of alcohol that can be consumed without increasing health risks increases throughout life.
“Our message is simple: Young people shouldn’t drink, but older people could benefit from small amounts,” said co-author Emmanuela Gakidou of the University of Washington.
“Although it may be unrealistic for young adults to refrain from drinking, we believe it is important to communicate the latest evidence so that everyone can make informed decisions about their health,” he added.
The research team calls for stronger guidelines to warn younger adults of the health risks of alcohol consumption, as well as for personalized advice based on age and place of residence.
Study: 22 different health outcomes
The researchers had studied the risk of alcohol consumption for 22 different health outcomes, including cardiovascular disease and cancer, but also injuries, for example in traffic or disputes.
The basis was the large-scale Global Burden of Disease project, which systematically collects data on health around the world. Their conclusion: Even a conservative approach to the lowest level of safe consumption is still too high a recommendation for younger populations, said co-author Dana Bryazka, also of the University of Washington.
Organizations are now calling for a change in mentality. Science has clearly shown in hundreds of studies in recent years that alcohol harms the human body many times over, said Richard Piper, chief executive of Alcohol Change UK.
“We weren’t aware of this before, and too many of us continue to drink as if this revolution in our knowledge hadn’t happened,” says Piper. (YO)