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August 25, 2018

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Tom Sightings

I read another story about this study as well ... and frankly, I don't get it. The study seems to show that, in general, drinking causes a lot of health problems. That's very convincing. But there's nothing showing that a small amount of alcohol -- a couple of drinks a week, say -- causes any negative effects. Is there something in the study that addresses this issue -- the one in the headline -- in particular? Thanks!

Rita

Hi Tom,

The global study is consistent with other studies that show that even small amounts of alcohol are related to bad health effects. For example, I've written two articles about the link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer. One reported a study that showed one glass of alcohol a day could increase the risk of breast cancer in women by 7 percent.

The confusion comes from attempts by the alcohol industry to get people to believe that drinking red wine has health benefits. Due to the industry efforts, the 1995 Dietary Guidelines for Americans published by the Department of Agriculture removed language indicating that alcohol had “no net health benefit” and stated that, for some people, moderate alcohol consumption might reduce the risk of heart disease. The department removed language suggesting that alcohol may lower the risk of heart disease in the most recent U.S. Dietary Guidelines.

Rita

Jennifer

I'm confused by this study since the countries that have the highest amount of drinking aren't all showing up on the list of highest deaths. Makes me wonder if we're also talking about the quality of alcohol that is being made. I would like to know how poverty and access to healthcare and drinking ages had an impact on this study.

Rita

Hi Jennifer,

Here's a link to the article on the study and other information about it: http://www.healthdata.org/research-article/alcohol-use-and-burden-195-countries-and-territories-1990%E2%80%932016-systematic-analysis

Maybe that will help answer your questions.

Rita

Rebecca Forstadt Olkowski

I'm currently dealing with someone who is experiencing the health effects of heavy drinking and it's pretty awful. However, I also sat and drank a glass of Sangria with a man who was 103 and met a 102-year-old man who said he drank a little whiskey every day. In general, I think many people drink way too much but maybe a little every once in a while doesn't hurt as long as there isn't a previous history of alcohol abuse.

Rita

Hi Rebecca,

I'm so sorry about your friend or relative who is experiencing the health effects of heavy drinking.

I think the information in this study is helpful. Alcohol is a carcinogen and drinking even one glass a day may increase your changes of getting some types of cancer.

If people know this, then they can make an informed decision about how much alcohol to drink. I know that when I became aware several years ago about the link between breast cancer and moderate alcohol consumption, I cut the amount of alcohol I was drinking.

In addition to cancer, the study looks at the deaths and overall poor health caused by alcohol for other health outcomes. This may be what your friend or relative is experiencing.

Rita

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