How much alcohol is safe?
In a hotly disputed finding, a major global study has concluded that there is no “safe” level of alcohol consumption, and that even the occasional drink can be harmful to your health. The Global Burden of Disease Study examined data on drinking in 195 countries between 1990 and 2016, focusing on how consumption affected risk for 23 different alcohol-related issues. The researchers found that even as little as one drink a day over a year slightly increased the incidence of health problems. A low level of alcohol use does seem to provide some protection against heart disease and diabetes, researchers acknowledged, but those benefits are outweighed by other impacts. But the study’s methods sparked widespread skepticism, reports The New York Times. The researchers weren’t able to control for possible confounding factors: People who drink may be more likely to smoke, for example. Many researchers argue that recommending zero alcohol consumption is unrealistic and unhelpful. “Claiming there is no ‘safe’ level does not seem an argument for abstention,” says David Spiegelhalter, a statistician at Cambridge University. “There is no safe level of driving, but governments do not recommend that people avoid driving.” ■