The recommended alcohol limit in some EU states, including Italy, Portugal and Spain, is almost 50% higher than in the UK, a report published in the Lancet has revealed.
The UK recommends people do not drink more than 14 units a week – or around 6 pints of beer or glasses of wine – giving it one of the strictest set of guidelines in the world.
Regularly drinking more than this could take years off your life, experts have today warned, in support of the UK’s recently lowered guidelines.
“Doctors and other healthcare professionals must heed this message and transmit it to their patients. This study has shown that drinking alcohol at levels which were believed to be safe is actually linked with lower life expectancy and several adverse health outcomes,” said Dr Dan Blazer, the report’s co-author.
Americans advised they can drink twice as much as Brits
Men in the US are advised to drink no more than 11 glasses of wine, or pints of beer, almost double than in the UK. Italians, Portuguese and Spanish drinkers are warned that consuming more than around nine glasses of wine could be dangerous.
Experts, who are increasingly associating a higher risk of stroke, fatal aneurysm, heart failure and death with excessive drinking, say that if you regularly have more than 9 drinks a week then you risk shortening your life by 1-2 years.
Even more excessive drinking, a weekly total of more than 17 drinks, was linked with a shorter life expectancy of 4-5 years. An analysis shows that approximately half of all drinkers go over the weekly recommended limit in the 19 high-income countries studied, while almost one-in-ten people drink more than the equivalent of 21 pints of beer a week.
Experts warn opponents to alcohol recommendations to take heed
“The drinking levels recommended in this study will no doubt be described as implausible and impracticable by the alcohol industry and other opponents of public health warnings on alcohol,” wrote Professors Jason Connor and Wayne Hall from the University of Queensland Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research, Australia.
“Nonetheless, the findings ought to be widely disseminated and they should provoke informed public and professional debate.”
The authors of the report, which included data from almost 600,000 current drinkers, say their findings challenge the widely-held belief that moderate drinking is beneficial to cardiovascular health. The study also highlighted how drinking alcohol causes elevated blood pressure and high cholesterol.