"Light" drinking, such as a daily glass of wine four or more times per week, may increase the risk of premature death says a new study from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
The findings, published this week in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, contrast previous research and concepts like the French Paradox as well as current health guidelines that have suggested regular consumption of 1-2 glasses of wine several times per week has health benefits such as reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
Researchers looked at health data compiled on more than 400,000 people and found that in the case of daily "light drinkers" -- people consuming no more than 1-2 glasses of wine four or more times per week -- there was a 20 percent increase in the risk of early death.
“Daily drinking, even at low levels, is detrimental to one’s health,” the study authors noted.
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“It used to seem like having one or two drinks per day was no big deal, and there even have been some studies suggesting it can improve health,” lead author Dr. Sarah M. Hartz, MD, PhD, said in the statement. “But now we know that even the lightest daily drinkers have an increased mortality risk.”
Other research published earlier this year also suggested that no amount of alcohol consumption is safe for optimal health, particularly for people with certain family histories of illnesses such as cancer.
“If you tailor medical recommendations to an individual person, there may be situations under which you would think that occasional drinking potentially could be helpful,” Hartz said. “But overall, I do think people should no longer consider a glass of wine a day to somehow be healthy.”
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