A recent study has found that having even one drink a day can negatively impact one’s health. In fact, light drinkers have a 23% increased risk of suffering from a cardiovascular event.
Previous studies indicated that light to moderate alcohol consumption was associated with lower risks of cardiovascular diseases and heart failure, even suggesting that a drink a day has added health benefits. However, academics at Anglia Ruskin University in England have shown that this is could not be further from the truth.
The analysis discovered that light drinkers, those who consume less than 14 units or 4.7 grams of alcohol a week as recommended by UK chief medical officers, can become hospitalized due to alcohol consumption. Numerous studies have found a “J-shaped curve” that shows a safe consumption rate of alcohol.
Credit: JACC Journals
Credit: JACC Journals
“The so-called J-shaped curve of the cardiovascular disease-alcohol consumption relationship suggesting health benefit from low to moderate alcohol consumption is the biggest myth since we were told smoking was good for us,” Dr. Rudolph Schutte, lead author of the analysis and associate professor at Anglia Ruskin University, said in a press release.
While wine drinkers have a decreased risk of coronary artery disease, the analysis found that wine drinkers were still susceptible to a higher risk of other cardiovascular events.
This misconception in previous data is due to biases of evidence collected in previous studies, the analysis suggests. Biases such as using nondrinkers that have poor health conditions as the reference group, or including data of wine drinkers having lower risks in coronary artery disease when determining overall cardiovascular risk.
Additionally, light drinkers have a slightly increased risk of certain cancers like esophageal cancer, according to Mayo Clinic. Research has also found that having two to five drinks a day increases the chance of developing breast cancer by 41% compared to non-drinkers.
Alcohol, even when consumed in small doses, can lead to disruption in sleep cycles. Furthermore, when consumed with medication — whether prescribed or over-the-counter — alcohol can lead to dangerous or even fatal outcomes.
The pandemic has also recorded a dangerous upward trend of alcohol consumption.
An article published in the peer-reviewed journal Hepatology found that a year’s increase in alcohol intake during the pandemic is projected to result in 8,000 deaths related to alcoholic-associated liver deaths.
“Biases embedded in epidemiological evidence mask or underestimate the hazards associated with alcohol consumption. When these biases are accounted for, the adverse effects of even low-level alcohol consumption are revealed,” Schutte said.
For more content like this, sign up for the Pulse newsletter here.
About the Author
Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com