London: Drinking more than a glass of wine or beer can take years off your life, a study has found.
According to the research, drinking more alcohol is associated with a higher risk of stroke, fatal aneurysm, heart failure and death.
The findings challenge the widely held belief that moderate drinking is beneficial to cardiovascular health, and support the UK's recently lowered guidelines.
"The key message of this research is that, if you already drink alcohol, drinking less may help you live longer and lower your risk of several cardiovascular conditions," said Angela Wood from the University of Cambridge in the UK.
The study, published in the journal The Lancet, compared the health and drinking habits of around 600,000 current drinkers in 19 countries worldwide and controlled for age, smoking, history of diabetes, level of education and occupation.
The upper safe limit of drinking was about five drinks per week (100g of pure alcohol, 12.5 units or just over five pints of 4 per cent ABV2 beer or five 175ml glasses of 13 per cent ABV wine).
However, drinking above this limit was linked with lower life expectancy. For example, having 10 or more drinks per week was linked with one to two years shorter life expectancy.
Having 18 drinks or more per week was linked with four to five years shorter life expectancy.
The research supports the UK's recently lowered guidelines, which since 2016 recommend both men and women should not drink more than 14 units of alcohol each week. This equates to around six pints of beer or six glasses of wine a week.
The researchers also looked at the association between alcohol consumption and different types of cardiovascular disease.
Alcohol consumption was associated with a higher risk of stroke, heart failure, fatal aortic aneurysms, fatal hypertensive disease and heart failure and there were no clear thresholds where drinking less did not have a benefit....