Three glasses of wine a week is enough31st May 2012
A new study has suggested that people in the UK should drink no more than three small glasses of wine a week.
Researchers from Oxford University estimate that 4,500 lives a year could be saved if advice on “safe” levels of alcohol intake were changed.
Current Department of Health advice puts the levels at three to four units a day for men and two to three for women. A small glass of wine contains 1.3 units, while a pint of beer contains at least two units.
Previous studies have suggested moderate drinking can cut the risk of dying from heart disease but the Oxford team say the ideal intake to prevent chronic disease is only about half a unit of alcohol a day.
Dr Melanie Nichols, of the British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research Group at Oxford University, and her team analysed the death toll of 11 conditions known to be linked to long-term alcohol consumption.
While there may be lives lost from cutting consumption because of the positive benefits of alcohol, the researchers – who published their results in the online journal BMJ Open - said this would be offset by a reduction of deaths including more than 2,600 from cancers and almost 3,000 from liver cirrhosis.
Dr Nichols said: ‘When all of the chronic disease risks are balanced against each other, the optimal consumption level is much lower than many people believe.
The charity Alcohol Concern said what was important was to ensure the guidelines, currently being reviewed by the Chief Medical Officers, were easy to understand.
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