If you’re under the age of 40, you might want to stop drinking. Altogether.
Yep, you read that right. The consumption of alcohol holds significant health risks and no benefits for young people, according to a major new study.
However, there may be perks for older adults in drinking a small amount, found the researchers from the Global Burden of Diseases, based at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Drinking more than the equivalent of a beer a day could increase the chances of health risk for men in particular, the study found. Men under 40 should not exceed a level of 0.136 drinks a day, while women in the same age range should not exceed 0.273 – around a quarter of a standard drink a day, researchers said.
“Our message is simple,” said senior author, Dr Emmanuela Gakidou, professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine. “Young people should not drink, but older people may benefit from drinking small amounts.”
Older adults without any underlying health conditions could see some benefits from drinking alcohol, the study found, such as limiting risk of stroke, diabetes and ischaemic heart disease.
For those aged 40-64, half a standard drink to almost two standard drinks a day was considered a safe consumption level. For anyone aged 65 or older, health risks increased after drinking a little more than three standard drinks a day.
But the authors still recommended that alcohol intake for older adults should not exceed 1.87 standard drinks a day. After that level, health risks increased with each drink, the report found.
The rolling Global Burden of Diseases study is the first to report alcohol risks by geographical region, age, sex, and year. The team recommend that alcohol consumption guidelines should also be based on age and location, with the strictest guidelines for men aged 15-39, who are at the greatest risk of harmful alcohol consumption worldwide.
“Even if a conservative approach is taken and the lowest level of safe consumption is used to set policy recommendations, this implies that the recommended level of alcohol consumption is still too high for younger populations,” lead author Dana Bryazka, researcher at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, told the Independent.
Dr Gakidou added: “While it may not be realistic to think young adults will abstain from drinking, we do think it’s important to communicate the latest evidence so that everyone can make informed decisions about their health.”