Versão em Português

Drinking a little alcohol every day is not good for your health, says study

22 Mai 2023

A study published in the JAMA Network Open showed that daily alcohol consumption, even in small doses, does not protect against the risk of all-cause mortality. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no pattern of alcohol consumption that is absolutely safe. Even so, there is still debate about the possibility that moderate alcohol consumption, or even lower consumption, could be a protective factor for some diseases, especially cardiovascular ones. However, a study published in recent days by the scientific journal JAMA Network Open has shown that daily alcohol consumption, even in small doses, is not associated with protection against the risk of all-cause mortality. In addition, it showed that for women the risk of mortality may be higher.

The aim of the study was to investigate the association between alcohol use and all-cause mortality across 107 selected epidemiological studies (totaling more than 4.8 million participants) published from 1980 to 2021, in order to compare distinctions between abstainers and drinkers, mainly regarding age, gender and consumption pattern using occasional drinkers (who drank up to 1 drink per week) as a reference for comparison.

The meta-analysis performed on the study did not find a significant reduction in the risk of all-cause mortality among occasional drinkers (who consumed up to 1.3g of ethanol per day) or light drinkers (who consumed from 1.3g to 24g per day). day) compared to lifetime non-drinkers. However, it reported a (non-significant) increased risk of all-cause mortality among drinkers who consumed 25g to 44g of ethanol per day and a significantly increased risk for drinkers who consumed 45g to 64g and 65g or more per day. Finally, the study also pointed to significantly higher risks of mortality among women who drank from 25g or more compared to women who did not drink.

Some limitations in this work need to be considered, such as the fact that alcohol consumption, in many studies, was evaluated in just a single moment and that a large part of the alcohol consumption reported in the selected studies was of the self-report type, which probably may have falsified or underreported the actual amount consumed. In addition, errors in the classification of drinkers were also found, for example, with regard to the classification of abstemious drinkers, where it is not clear whether the group refers to former drinkers or individuals who have not consumed alcohol throughout their lives.

Even so, this study manages to demystify the idea that drinking every day is good for health. “Daily alcohol consumption, even in small amounts, may not be associated with protection against the risk of all-cause mortality. This reinforces the need to raise awareness about the risks of excessive alcohol consumption and the importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle.”, highlights psychiatrist Olívia Pozzolo, medical researcher at CISA.

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