You have to be at least 21 years old to legally buy alcohol, but that doesn’t mean it is safe for young adults to drink. In fact, if you’re under forty, you might want to think twice before ordering that drink.
After a recent analysis of global data, researchers concluded that younger people face higher health risks from alcohol consumption than older adults. Their findings are the first to detail risks of drinking alcohol by geographical region, age, sex and year.
This age-based conclusion comes from the Global Burden of Diseases study which produces the most comprehensive data on the causes of illness and death in the world. Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle analyzed the risk of alcohol consumption based on 22 health outcomes, including: injuries, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Estimating alcohol use in 204 countries, the researchers calculated that 1.34 billion people consumed harmful amounts of booze in 2020.
Although this information will probably dampen the spirits of a comparatively young population, the older crowd may be a lot happier with their findings.
For this age group, alcohol provided no health benefits. On the contrary, it posed risks, including injuries relating to drinking or car accidents, suicides or homicides.
For young men, the researchers say that a daily amount of alcohol that’s considered safe before risking health loss was only about 2.6 tablespoons of beer or 2 tablespoons of wine a day. For young women, the recommendation was 3.3 ounces of beer and 2 tablespoons of wine.
Although this information will probably dampen the spirits of a comparatively young population, the older crowd may be a lot happier with their findings. Why? Because the researchers suggest that adults aged 40 and older without underlying health conditions may actually benefit from limited alcohol consumption. A small glass of red wine, for instance, can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and diabetes. For those who are 65 or older, it was also found that even three standard drinks a day did not negatively affect their population.
“Our message is simple: young people should not drink, but older people may benefit from small amounts,” said the senior author, Emmanuela Gakidou, professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine. “While it may not be realistic to think young adults will abstain from drinking, we do think it’s important to communicate the latest evidence so that everyone can make informed decisions about their health.”
For those under 40, alcohol provided no health benefits. On the contrary, it posed risks, including injuries relating to drinking or car accidents, suicides or homicides.
If you’d like to cut down on your daily drinking, these tips from Centers for Disease Control can help:
- Set limits. Decide how many days a week you plan to drink and how many drinks you plan to have. For instance, you might decide to only drink on a Friday night or Saturday night and have one drink. Schedule alcohol-free days every week.
- Count your drinks. Use an app on your mobile device to help. Understanding how much alcohol counts as a “standard drink” may also help.
- Manage your triggers. If certain people, places, or activities tempt you to drink more than you planned, you can avoid those triggers. For example, instead of a happy hour event with co-workers, suggest catching up at lunch instead. You may also want to remove certain alcohol products from your home.
- Get support. Ask a friend, family member, healthcare provider or someone who has cut their alcohol consumption for support for your choice to drink less
The study is published in The Lancet.