- For people between the ages of 15 and 39, there is no health benefit to drinking alcohol.
- Men between the ages of 15 and 39 risked losing their health by drinking more than 1/10th of a standard drink.
- Women increased health risks by drinking about 1/4 of a standard drink.
- People under 40 who drink are the most likely to sustain injuries.
Alcohol is not good for people under 40, according to a new global study.
Even small amounts of alcohol carried increased risks of death, according to the authors of the Global Burden of Diseases study, a project based at the University of Washington in Seattle. The project produces comprehensive data on the causes of illness and death around the world and concluded that young people should not drink at all. However, consuming small amounts of wine, beer, or other alcoholic beverages may be beneficial for older people.
The new analysis, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, estimates that 1.34 billion people consumed harmful amounts of alcohol in 2020.
Are There Health Benefits of Drinking Alcohol in Young Adults?
Previous research has suggested that at low levels of consumption, alcohol reduces the risk of death from all causes. However, the Global Burden of Diseases Project, which tracks epidemiological levels and trends around the world, has previously found that any level of alcohol consumption increases the risk of death.
This has led researchers to continue studying the effects of alcohol on health. They found:
► For people aged 15 to 39, there are no health benefits to drinking alcohol, only health risks, according to the study released Thursday.
►Men aged 15-39 risked health loss by drinking just over a tenth of a standard drink, while women increased their health risk by drinking about 1/4 of a standard drink , according to the researchers.
►Around 6 in 10 (59%) people who consumed dangerous amounts of alcohol in 2020 were between the ages of 15 and 39. Almost 77% of them were men.
► For people over the age of 40, consuming a small amount of alcohol (for example, drinking between one and two 3.4-ounce glasses of red wine a day) for people in this age group may have beneficial health effects, including reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and diabetes. But health risks vary by age and region, researchers say.
“Our message is simple: Young people shouldn’t drink, but older people can benefit from small amounts of alcohol,” said Emmanuela Gakidou, professor of health sciences at IMHE in a press release. “While it may not be realistic to think that young adults will abstain from drinking, we believe it is important to communicate the latest evidence so that everyone can make informed decisions about their health.
How much alcohol is there in a drink?
A standard drink is defined as 10 grams of pure alcohol, for the purposes of the study. Examples:
►Wine. A small glass of red wine (100 ml or 3.4 fluid ounces) at 13% alcohol by volume.
►Beer. A can or bottle (375 ml or 12 fluid ounces) at 3.5% alcohol by volume.
►Spirits. A shot of whiskey or other spirits (30 ml or 1.0 fluid ounce) at 40% alcohol by volume.
Americans and drugs:The number of Americans who inject drugs is skyrocketing to nearly 3.7 million people in 2018.
Overdoses in the United States:More than 107,000 Americans died of drug overdoses last year. This drug is the cause of most deaths.
How does alcohol increase risk for adults under 40?
Of the health effects with which alcohol is associated, people under 40 are the most likely to experience injury, both intentional and unintentional, said Dana Bryazka, a researcher at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation of Washington University School of Medicine.
“Rates of cancers and heart disease are generally low in this population,” Bryazka said. “Taking a disease rate-weighted average of alcohol consumption risk, we found that even relatively low levels of alcohol consumption are harmful for young people.”
Alcohol consumption in the United States compared to other countries
Alcohol use among people under 40 is a big problem in the United States, Bryazka said. The proportion of Americans consuming harmful amounts of alcohol is exceeded only by countries like Australia and Western Europe.
“Injuries and cancers account for a larger share than in other regions, so the amount of safe alcohol is relatively low,” Bryazka said. “The second reason is that a large portion of the American population consumes alcohol, and when they do, it’s a lot.”
What to do with alcohol consumption?
Study authors call for guidelines to be revised to focus on age-specific drinking levels, pointing out that the level of alcohol consumption recommended by many existing guidelines is too high for young people in all regions .
They also call for policies targeting men under 40, who are most likely to use alcohol in harmful ways.
Bryazka said she hopes the study results will catch the attention of US health officials and the general public and lead to significant change and awareness.
“A win would be for people to understand the risks they are taking with their behavior, leading to a culture that promotes moderation in alcohol consumption,” Briazka said.