August 24, 2018 7:02 am
Updated: August 27, 2018 3:00 pm

No amount of alcohol — not even 1 glass of wine — is safe, global study says

ABOVE: Bad news for even casual drinkers according to one new study.

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There is no amount of liquor, beer or wine that is safe for your overall health, according to a new global study.

The study, published in the Lancet on Friday, said alcohol was the leading risk factor for disease and premature death in men and women between the ages of 15 and 49 across the world in 2016, accounting for nearly one in 10 deaths. That same year, alcohol was associated with 2.8 million deaths.

WATCH: Any amount of alcohol considered hazardous to health

The deaths included alcohol-related cancer, cardiovascular disease, infectious diseases, intentional injuries such as violence and self-harm, traffic collisions and unintentional injuries like drowning and fires.

Although previous studies have found that light-to-moderate drinking can reduce heart disease, the researchers said alcohol is still likely to do more harm and the safest level of drinking is none.

WATCH: Rate of alcohol-related hospitalizations and deaths increasing faster for women than men

“Previous studies have found a protective effect of alcohol on some conditions, but we found that the combined health risks associated with alcohol increases with any amount of alcohol,” lead author of the study Dr. Max Griswold, at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), University of Washington said.

LISTEN: Study author Max Griswold explains how, as you reduce the amount of alcohol you consume, you reduce the risks to your health

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“The strong association between alcohol consumption and the risk of cancer, injuries, and infectious diseases offset the protective effects for heart disease in our study.”

WATCH: No amount of alcohol is good for overall health, study says


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For people over the age of 50, cancers were the leading cause of alcohol-related deaths. They were responsible for 27.1 per cent of alcohol-related deaths of women and 18.9 per cent of men in 2016.

READ MORE: Canadian women increasingly drinking themselves to death, report says

Griswold said that although the health risks associated with alcohol start off being small with one drink a day, they rise rapidly as people drink more.

For example, having one “standard drink” (10 grams of alcohol, equivalent to a small beer or glass of wine) per day can increase your risk of developing at least one of two dozen health problems but about 0.5 per cent, the study found.

The health risk increased to seven per cent for people who consumed two drinks a day and soared to 37 per cent for those who drank five drinks.

WATCH: New study shows how dangerous alcohol is to your health

The study suggested that governments should think of advising people to abstain from alcohol.

The Canadian Centre for Substance Use and Addiction recommends people drink no more than two drinks a day, 10 per week for women and 15 per week for men.

How many people are drinking?

One in three, or 2.4 billion people around the world, drink alcohol, the study shows.

Among men, drinking alcohol in 2016 was the most widespread in Denmark, along with Norway, Argentina, Germany and Poland. Pakistan had the fewest male drinkers.

READ MORE: More than 1 alcoholic drink a day could take years off your life, study says

Among women, Denmark also ranked first, followed by Norway, Germany, Argentina and New Zealand. Bangladesh had the fewest women drinking.

Men in Romania and women in Ukraine drank the most — 8.2 and 4.2 drinks per day respectively.

READ MORE: Here’s a breakdown of what alcohol does to your body

The Lancet study, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, used data from the 2016 Global Burden of Disease report, which looked at levels of alcohol use and its health effects in 195 countries, between 1990 and 2016.

Researchers looked at data from 15- to 95-year-olds and compared people who did not drink at all with those who had one alcoholic drink a day.

WATCH: Five healthy habits that can add more than a decade to your life

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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