There’s no risk-free amount of alcohol, population-level study finds
Booze is a leading cause of death and disease worldwide, and no amount is devoid of risks, according to a massive meta-analysis on global alcohol use.
The study, published late last week in The Lancet, appears to contradict some health advice that suggests low-to-moderate drinking is fine and may even provide health benefits. But it’s important to keep in mind that the study is focused on risk at the population level—individual, absolute risks can still be quite small, even nearly negligible, depending on how much you drink.
For the study, hundreds of researchers collaborated to lump together 3,992 estimates for relative risks of alcohol drinking. That is to say, they combined estimates of how drinking increases a person’s risk of a particular potential harm—such as being injured in a drunken accident or developing throat cancer—relative to someone who does not drink or drinks less. Those estimates were distilled from 592 different studies. The researchers also amassed data on alcohol exposure from 694 different sources, extracting 121,029 data points. This helped the researchers estimate how much men and women in 195 countries might actually be drinking, broken out by age.