Bad news for those who enjoy what they think is a healthy glass of wine a day. A large new global study published in the Lancet has confirmed previous research which has shown that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption.
The researchers admit moderate drinking may protect against heart disease but found that the risk of cancer and other diseases outweighs these protections.
A study author said its findings were the most significant to date because of the range of factors considered.
How risky is moderate drinking?
The Global Burden of Disease study looked at levels of alcohol use and its health effects in 195 countries, including the UK, between 1990 and 2016.
Analysing data from 15 to 95-year-olds, the researchers compared people who did not drink at all with those who had one alcoholic drink a day.
They found that out of 100,000 non-drinkers, 914 would develop an alcohol-related health problem such as cancer or suffer an injury.
But an extra four people would be affected if they drank one alcoholic drink a day.
For people who had two alcoholic drinks a day, 63 more developed a condition within a year and for those who consumed five drinks every day, there was an increase of 338 people, who developed a health problem.
Prof Saxena said the study was the most important study ever conducted on the subject.
She explained: “This study goes further than others by considering a number of factors including alcohol sales, self-reported data on the amount of alcohol drank, abstinence, tourism data and the levels of illicit trade and home brewing.”
The study shows that British women drink an average of three drinks a day, and rank eighth in the world of highest drinkers.
Yet Prof David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge, sounded a note of caution about the findings.
“Given the pleasure presumably associated with moderate drinking, claiming there is no ‘safe’ level does not seem an argument for abstention,” he said.
“There is no safe level of driving, but the government does not recommend that people avoid driving.
“Come to think of it, there is no safe level of living, but nobody would recommend abstention.”