Moderate drinking also bears severe consequences, more so for men

June 26, 2020

A new study by researchers at the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research (CISUR) at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, showed that limited alcohol consumption did protect women from death from heart attack, but not for men, “who experienced harm at all drinking levels.”

Using British Columbia-specific alcohol exposure data from substance use surveys, hospital data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information and mortality data from Statistics Canada’s Vital Statistics – all contained within the International Model of Alcohol Harms and Policies (InterMAHP) – the researchers found that a significant portion of alcohol-caused death and disability was experienced by those drinking within guidelines imposed by the Canadian government.

[The low-risk drinking guidelines in Canada state that women should consume no more than about 10 drinks per week (one “drink” is equivalent to  12 oz. of beer, 5 oz. of wine, or 1.5 oz. of liquor); men should consume no more than 15 drinks per week. These limits are slightly higher than those in the US and exceed those of most other high-income countries.]

Moderate drinkers “are not insulated from harm,” said Adam Sherk, of CISUR – his team noted more than 50% of cancer deaths resulting from alcohol use, in people who drank moderately. A further 38% of all alcohol-attributable deaths were experienced by people drinking below the weekly limits or among former drinkers.

Because of these results, Sherk thinks that some national drinking guidelines, which are intended to help drinkers make informed health decisions, may be too high and suggests that guideline limits should be lowered appropriately. He cited the guidelines imposed in the Netherlands: “Don’t drink or, if you do, drink no more than one drink per day.”

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Category: Education, Features

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