I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets at least a little bit happy when a study reveals that a glass of wine or beer per day can have some health benefits.
But the fact is that a daily drink or two isn’t doing anything for your health from a physical standpoint. At least those are the findings from an extensive new evidence review.
The new report suggests previous work linking alcohol consumption and the potential health benefits of moderate drinking are flawed, and that any observed positives go away when these flaws are taken into account.
The research team noted that previous studies on alcohol’s benefits tended to place former drinkers in the same group as lifetime abstainers, essentially classifying them all as non-drinkers. But many former drinkers typically cut down on alcohol because of health problems.
By taking this into account, the researchers found that former drinkers actually have a 22 percent higher risk of early death than never-drinkers. Their presence in a non-drinker group biases results, creating the illusion that moderate drinking is healthy.
But not all drinking is bad. It just might not have any benefits.
For example, at best, a standard-sized drink or two per day may have no ill effects. But going higher than that, say three to four, can significantly increase the risk of early death.
A standard drink in the United States contains roughly 14 grams of pure alcohol, according to the US National Institutes of Health. That is the equivalent of 12 ounces of 5 percent beer, 5 ounces of 13 percent wine, and 1.5 ounces of a distilled spirit.
Overall, it appears that neither occasional drinkers (less than 1.3 grams, or one drink every two weeks) nor low-volume drinkers (up to 24 grams per day, or about 2 drinks) had a significantly lower risk of death. It also seems that there is a slightly increased risk of death for people drinking around 3 per day.
The risk of death jumped when people had four drinks per day or 45 or more grams of alcohol.
Researchers also noted that alcohol has a more dramatic effect in lower amounts on women than on men. This is likely due to biological factors.
It’s known that alcohol use can increase the risk of liver disease, heart disease, and more.
If you like to enjoy a few drinks from time to time to relax or enjoy the company of friends, it can be good for you from a mental and social standpoint. But no alcohol is best when you’re thinking about heart health.