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No alcohol under 40: a population-level study

News
July 29, 2022
By
Olena Mokshyna, PhD.

For the younger group aged 15-39, risks outweighed benefits, with the theoretical minimum risk exposure level being about one-tenth of the standard drink (about two teaspoons of red wine)

Whether safe amounts of alcohol exist remains a topic of heated debate among the broad public and medical community. As of 2020, alcohol consumption accounted for almost 2 million deaths worldwide and was the leading cause of death for males aged 15-49. Though small amounts of alcohol might lower the risk of some health outcomes (such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes), they increase other risks. This interplay suggests the strong influence of accompanying factors, such as region, age, sex, and year.

The Global Burden of Disease, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) gathered data for 21 regions, including 204 countries and territories. These data were grouped by 5-year age group, sex, and year, and the study included individuals aged 19-95 (and older) from 1990 to 2020. In the study published in Lancet, the GBD consortium analyzed 22 health outcomes regarding alcohol consumption. To quantify the measures, they used two parameters – the theoretical minimum risk exposure level (TMREL) and non-drinker equivalence (NDE). The TMREL represents a level of alcohol consumption that minimizes health loss from alcohol, while NDE describes a level of consumption at which a health loss of a drinker is equivalent to that of a non-drinker. 

Though some previous studies suggested that TMREL of alcohol equals zero standard drinks (a drink containing 10 g of ethanol) per day, this study by the GBD consortium suggests otherwise. The interplay between moderate consumption and health loss is much more complicated, as data suggests. For the younger group aged 15-39, risks outweighed benefits, and TMREL was found to be about one-tenth of the standard drink (about two teaspoons of red wine). Unfortunately, this precise age group, especially males, was most likely involved in consuming excessive amounts of alcohol. The difference between males and females was insignificant.

Interestingly, some health benefits outweighed the risks for the age group of 40 years and older, leading to an increased NDE of 1.69 and 1.82 standard drinks for males and females correspondingly. Such a difference was due to a higher occurrence of cardiovascular disease and diabetes (for which alcohol can provide some benefits) among this group. The difference between males and females above 40 was statistically significant. The picture slightly changed for the age group above 65, with an estimated NDE of about three standard drinks per day, with no significant differences between males and females. 

These findings allow for better alcohol consumption guidelines targeting the most vulnerable parts of the young population. Knowing and informedly weighing the pros and cons of alcohol consumption would allow a broad population to care better about their health.

Source The Lancet

Whether safe amounts of alcohol exist remains a topic of heated debate among the broad public and medical community. As of 2020, alcohol consumption accounted for almost 2 million deaths worldwide and was the leading cause of death for males aged 15-49. Though small amounts of alcohol might lower the risk of some health outcomes (such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes), they increase other risks. This interplay suggests the strong influence of accompanying factors, such as region, age, sex, and year.

The Global Burden of Disease, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) gathered data for 21 regions, including 204 countries and territories. These data were grouped by 5-year age group, sex, and year, and the study included individuals aged 19-95 (and older) from 1990 to 2020. In the study published in Lancet, the GBD consortium analyzed 22 health outcomes regarding alcohol consumption. To quantify the measures, they used two parameters – the theoretical minimum risk exposure level (TMREL) and non-drinker equivalence (NDE). The TMREL represents a level of alcohol consumption that minimizes health loss from alcohol, while NDE describes a level of consumption at which a health loss of a drinker is equivalent to that of a non-drinker. 

Though some previous studies suggested that TMREL of alcohol equals zero standard drinks (a drink containing 10 g of ethanol) per day, this study by the GBD consortium suggests otherwise. The interplay between moderate consumption and health loss is much more complicated, as data suggests. For the younger group aged 15-39, risks outweighed benefits, and TMREL was found to be about one-tenth of the standard drink (about two teaspoons of red wine). Unfortunately, this precise age group, especially males, was most likely involved in consuming excessive amounts of alcohol. The difference between males and females was insignificant.

Interestingly, some health benefits outweighed the risks for the age group of 40 years and older, leading to an increased NDE of 1.69 and 1.82 standard drinks for males and females correspondingly. Such a difference was due to a higher occurrence of cardiovascular disease and diabetes (for which alcohol can provide some benefits) among this group. The difference between males and females above 40 was statistically significant. The picture slightly changed for the age group above 65, with an estimated NDE of about three standard drinks per day, with no significant differences between males and females. 

These findings allow for better alcohol consumption guidelines targeting the most vulnerable parts of the young population. Knowing and informedly weighing the pros and cons of alcohol consumption would allow a broad population to care better about their health.

Source The Lancet

Article reviewed by
Dr. Ana Baroni MD. Ph.D.
SCIENTIFIC & MEDICAL ADVISOR
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Dr. Ana Baroni MD. Ph.D.

Scientific & Medical Advisor
Quality Garant

Ana has over 20 years of consultancy experience in longevity, regenerative and precision medicine. She has a multifaceted understanding of genomics, molecular biology, clinical biochemistry, nutrition, aging markers, hormones and physical training. This background allows her to bridge the gap between longevity basic sciences and evidence-based real interventions, putting them into the clinic, to enhance the healthy aging of people. She is co-founder of Origen.life, and Longevityzone. Board member at Breath of Health, BioOx and American Board of Clinical Nutrition. She is Director of International Medical Education of the American College of Integrative Medicine, Professor in IL3 Master of Longevity at Barcelona University and Professor of Nutrigenomics in Nutrition Grade in UNIR University.

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