University of Queensland drug and alcohol experts have called for the thresholds for safer alcohol to be lowered, following a global alcohol consumption study.
The recommendations were made by Wayne Hall and Jason Connor from the university’s Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research.
The study was co-authored by more than 100 academics from around the globe and included analysis of 599,912 drinkers in 19 countries over a 50 year period.
The study and a commentary by Professors Hall and Connor is published in The Lancet.
Professor Hall explained that the study found that people who drank more had an increased risk of serious diseases.
“The study found that increased alcohol consumption was associated with a higher risk of stroke, coronary disease, heart failure, aortic aneurysm, and fatal levels of high blood pressure,”
“Around half of people in the study reported drinking more than 100 grams (or 10 standard drinks) of alcohol per week and almost 10 per cent drank more than 350 grams per week.
Conversely the study found that reducing the amount of alcohol consumed, increased life expectancy in middle-aged drinkers.
“The study suggests that reductions in alcohol consumption could increase life expectancy by up to two years in a 40-year-old drinker.
“However, this gain in life expectancy is only seen when alcohol consumption is below 100 grams per week.”
While alcohol consumption guidelines around the globe vary, in Australia guidelines say we should not consume more than 14 standard drinks a week or 140 grams.
The professor says the study supports an adoption of lower limits of alcohol consumption, which are currently recommended in other countries across the globe – 100 grams per week.
“These recommended drinking levels will no doubt be described as implausible and impracticable by the alcohol industry and other opponents of public health warnings on alcohol.
“Nonetheless, the findings ought to be widely disseminated and they should provoke informed public and professional debate.”
While suggested guidelines are still being reviewed, we should keep in mind that moderate alcohol consumption is best for your health. Currently we shouldn’t consume more than 2 drinks a day, according to guidelines.
As servers of alcohol, we must remember to serve alcohol to patrons in a way that does not knowingly cause them immediate or long term harm. For more about Responsible Service of Alcohol training click here.