No amount of alcohol is healthy if you are younger than 40, mostly due to alcohol-related deaths by auto accidents, injury and homicide, according to a new global study.
If you are 40 or older without underlying health conditions, however, the new research found small amounts of alcohol might reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and diabetes.
“Those diseases just happen to be major causes of death in a good chunk of the world,” said senior author Emmanuela Gakidou, professor of health metrics sciences at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine.
“So when you look at the cumulative health impact, particularly among older adults, it shows that a small amount is actually better for you than no drinking. For all other causes, it’s harmful at all levels of consumption.”
Indeed, the study found no protective effect for diseases such as tuberculosis, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, liver disease, epilepsy, pancreatitis and many cancers.
The analysis looked at 30 years of data on people ages 15 to 95 from 204 countries and territories gathered by the institute’s Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study, which tracks premature death and disability from over 300 diseases.
In every geographic region, the study found drinking alcohol does not provide any health benefits to people under age 40 but does raise the risk of injury, such as motor vehicle accidents, suicides and homicides.
A study published in March found just one pint of beer or glass of wine a day can shrink the overall volume of the brain, with the damage increasing as the number of daily drinks rises.