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How many alcoholic drinks before your life expectancy shrinks?
The subject of alcohol can be a very polarizing one. Some people don’t drink at all while others think of it as part of their daily life and part of their social scene.
I probably fall somewhere in the middle. While I love a nice glass of wine to unwind on the weekend, I’ve always been cautious of its effects as well.
I can thank my dad for that one since I grew up on stories of how his best friend from the army became an alcoholic and it destroyed his life – believe me those stories were even more effective than those anti-drug campaigns back in the 80s with the egg in the frying pan.
But, while I’ve been cautious, I’ve never really considered alcohol a problem other than the concerns over the potential addiction it can cause. Yet, a new study is shining a light on how much alcohol really is safe to drink each week and what can happen if you go over that limit.
Here’s what you need to know….
Studying drinking habits
The University of Cambridge in the UK funded an immense study to look at the drinking habits of over 600,000 people in 19 countries worldwide, and the health consequences that come with them.
Here are their findings:
The upper safe limit of drinking is about five drinks per week (this would equate to approximately 100g of pure alcohol, just over five pints of beer or five 175ml glasses of wine).
And, if your drink more than this per week, your life expectancy can shrink fast.
For example, having 10 or more drinks per week was linked with one to two years shorter life expectancy. And, having 18 drinks or more per week was linked with four to five years shorter life expectancy.
To top it off, drinking alcohol regularly was also associated with a higher risk of:
- Heart failure
- Fatal aortic aneurysms
- Fatal hypertensive disease
And, in all cases, drinking less reduced the risks.
Why does alcohol have these effects?
According to the researchers, it’s most likely thanks to alcohol’s elevating effects on your blood pressure as well as factors related to your cholesterol.
Tasty alternatives to alcohol
Considering the dangers, cutting back on the amount of alcohol you drink each week could be one of the healthiest things you ever do for your body.
Here are some tasty alternatives to alcohol you can try:
- Virgin Mojito – Just combine soda water with fresh lime, sugar and mint.
- Ginger beer – This is a tasty zing for your palate.
- Pink Flamingo – Add a shot of cranberry juice and lime to a glass and top with soda water.
- Cherry Jubilee – Mix cherry concentrate with Pellegrino.
- Virgin Mary – Combine low sodium V8 or tomato juice. Add the juice of carrots, celery, cucumber, spinach, mild mini sweet peppers and ginger to taste. Mix and sprinkle with a dash of lemon or lime juice.
- Sweet Peach Cocktail – Combine two ounces peach nectar with one ounce chilled apple juice, four 1/2-inch-thick banana slices, one ounce sweetened coconut milk, one ounce whole milk and 1/2 cup crushed ice and blend. Garnish with a peach slice.
- And don’t forget about the healthy hops in non-alcoholic beer.
Alcohol can be enjoyable and sometimes even healthy when you drink in moderation. But, findings of the new study show that the margins for safety are thin and can still come with dangerous health risks. To avoid heart problems and risk of early death, reduce your alcohol intake and use the non-alcoholic drink alternatives above instead to still enjoy a tasty, cocktail-like treat.
- Consuming more than five drinks a week could shorten your life — University of Cambridge