Alcohol: Beyond five beers it gets critical

With more than 100 grams of alcohol per week increases the risk of death

Cool enjoyment: How much beer can it be without worries per week? © DAJ / thinkstock
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Newly defined limit: 100 grams of alcohol per week - more should not be it. This is the result of a comprehensive study with just under 600, 000 subjects. Accordingly, the risk of cardiovascular diseases and also the general risk of death rises above this limit. The now defined maximum amount is thus lower than the limit values ​​recommended in most countries so far, as the researchers emphasize in the journal "Lancet".

Even if the myth of a healthy glass of wine persists: alcohol has no health-promoting effect - on the contrary. Those who consume too much can even become ill. Alcohol has been shown to increase the risk of certain cancers and can also damage the brain. Also, a connection with cardiovascular diseases is discussed again and again.

Different limits

But how much is too much? This question is still contentious. This is evidenced, for example, by the fact that the maximum recommended levels of alcohol use vary significantly from country to country. In order to arrive at a consistent result, an international team of scientists headed by Angela Wood from the University of Cambridge has now adopted this topic.

The researchers wanted to define a threshold at which alcohol consumption has the lowest impact on the risk of death and the risk of cardiovascular disease. For this they evaluated data from 599, 912 people. The subjects were from 19 different high-income countries, did not suffer from heart disease at the beginning of the study and were divided into different groups according to their individual alcohol consumption.

Lost years of life

How often would individual groups experience death or cardiovascular disease over the next nine years? The result: Overall, 40, 310 study participants died during the observation period. This revealed a connection between alcohol consumption and the risk of dying, as the scientists report. The more alcohol was drunk, the higher the risk of death - but only from a quantity of 100 grams of alcohol per week. This corresponds to, for example, five 0.5 liter bottles of beer. display

Concretely, it was shown that compared to those who drank less than 100 grams of alcohol per week, the life expectancy of 40-year-old volunteers with alcohol consumption between 100 and 200 grams per week was cut by about six months. People who drank between 200 and 350 grams of alcohol actually shortened their lives by one to two years - and subjects who consumed more than 350 grams of alcohol per week died four to five years early ago.

Higher risk of stroke and co

With regard to cardiovascular disease, Wood and her colleagues also found that the more alcohol the participants drank a week, the higher their risk of stroke. For every 100 grams of alcohol they drank more a week, the risk increased by 14 percent. Similarly, there was a risk of heart failure and coronary heart disease. For these conditions, with each additional 100 grams per week, the risk increased by nine and six percent.

In particular, alcohol consumption had an effect on the risk of dying from hypertension. Here, the scientists calculated a 24 percent higher risk if the people drank 100 grams of alcohol per week more. Interestingly, the scientists came to the heart attack with opposite results. Here, the consumption of alcohol even seemed to have a positive effect.

Less than previously recommended

All in all, it is clear to the researchers that more than 100 grams of alcohol per week damage your health and increase the risk of dying - whether in the form of beer, wine or schnapps. The now defined maximum amount is thus lower than in most countries so far recommended as limit, as they emphasize.

For comparison: In Portugal, a man can safely approve 40 grams of alcohol a day, a woman in Italy also. In France, 30 grams per day is the limit for enjoyment without risk for both sexes. In Germany, on the other hand, one is more cautious: according to the recommendation, women may drink up to twelve grams of alcohol per day, men twice as much. At least for the masters of the creation, therefore, a limit is also in this country, which is above the now published limit. (Lancet, 2018; doi: 10.1016 / S0140-6736 (18) 30134-X)

(German Health Portal, 05.07.2018 - DAL)