A new study published in the Lancet medical journal found five to six drinks per week was the safe upper limit for alcohol. Higher consumption was associated with higher risk of aneurysm, stroke, heart failure, and death.
Data from 83 studies following 600,000 drinkers across 19 countries found deaths rose when more than five to six glasses of wine or pints of beer were consumer per week. Findings were significant and showed consuming 10-12 drinks per week may lower life expectancy by six months. Consuming 18-21 drinks per week may lower life expectancy by one to two years. And consuming more than 21 drinks per week may lower life expectancy by four to five years.
There may be a small benefit to drinking. Some studies show moderate amounts of alcohol might decrease inflammation, increase good cholesterol, and lower risk of non-fatal heart attack. There have also been some studies showing moderate consumption of red wine may lower diabetes risk as well.
The benefits of alcohol should be balanced against the higher risks it has, especially when it comes to quantity consumed. Currently the U.S. defines moderate alcohol consumption to be less than 7 drinks per week for women and less than 14 drinks per week for men; over twice as high as the study found to be safe. Researchers from the study encourage countries such as the U.S., Italy, Portugal, and Spain to revise their alcohol limits to better match the results of this study.