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Health study says Ireland's weekly drinking limit should be 5 pints, not 8.5

Consuming more than 10 standard drinks a week can increase the risk of heart disease.

The report recommends the limit set at 10 standard drinks.
The report recommends the limit set at 10 standard drinks.
Image: Shutterstock

A NEW GLOBAL health study of nearly 600,000 drinkers has concluded that recommended weekly alcohol consumption should be lower than Ireland’s current level.

Current Irish guidelines recommend a limit of 170g pure alcohol (17 standard drinks) per week for men and 110g pure alcohol (11 standard drinks) for women.

A standard drink contains 10g of pure alcohol and is equivalent to a half-pint of 4.5% lager, a small glass of a wine or a pub measure of spirits.

But now a new study using data from 19 high income countries has found a reduction in life expectancy across all causes of death for people who consume more 100g per week.

The study found similar results for men and women and pointed out that people aged 40 who consume 200–350g per week could increase their life expectancy by up to three years if they halved their alcohol consumption.

The study included data from 599,912 current drinkers and had access to their age, sex smoking status and other factors related to heart disease.

The research found that people who reported weekly drinking of 100-200g, 200-350g or more than 350g had an estimated lower life expectancy at age 40 years of approximately 6 months, 1–2 years, or 4–5 years, respectively.

The study was carried out by researchers at the University of Cambridge and was published in The Lancet journal.

The evidence found that higher alcohol consumption contributed to a greater risk of several heart conditions including stroke, heart failure, fatal hypertensive disease, and fatal aortic aneurysm.

PastedImage-17671 What is a standard drink? Source: drinkaware.ie

Alcohol consumption was found to be associated with a lower risk of non-fatal heart attacks but researchers point out that this must be weighed against increased risk of potentially fatal heart disease.

The researchers point out that there is no thresholds below which lower alcohol consumption stopped being associated with disease risk but that the threshold for lowest risk was 100g per week.

The report therefore concluded that the recommended weekly limit for consumption be standardised across different countries at that level for both men and women.

“This study provides clear evidence to support lowering the recommended limits of alcohol consumption in many countries around the world,” co-author Professor Edoardo Casiglia said in the conclusion of the report.

Ireland would be among the countries that would be required to reduce limits in order to meet that standard.

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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