Is Alcohol Safe to Consume?

Source: The Lancet

Author:  Larry Chapman

Almost every culture in human history has used alcohol in some way. But, what level of alcohol use is considered “safe” or “low risk” for us today? Each nation has adopted somewhat different guidelines for what constitutes a safe or low risk level of alcohol consumption. For Americans, according to the CDC, weekly consumption of alcoholic beverages should not exceed 1 drink a day for women and 2 drinks a day for men. That’s 7 drinks per week for women and 14 drinks per week for men to maintain a safe or low risk status regarding alcohol consumption.

Now, a landmark study has just been published in the British medical journal Lancet that examined 83 prospective studies on the effects of alcohol on human health, and particularly all-cause mortality, with 599,912 subjects and some 5.4 million life years of follow-up observations. All this data was then run through a meta-analysis process. They found that for every drink over 5 per week (about 100 grams of alcohol per week) was associated with an average loss of 40 minutes of life. This result has profound implications for the health of Americans and of American workers.

The next step is for the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) to examine this evidence and formally weigh in on what new advice on alcohol use should now be given to U.S. citizens by health professionals and authorities. In the meantime, it is probably prudent for wellness programs in U.S. employer settings to share these new findings with employees and their family members.

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