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Consuming Alcohol Raises Risk of Over 60 Diseases, Study Says

Alcohol Raises Risk of Over 60 Diseases
Collaborative research involving Oxford University, Peking University, and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences reveals that alcohol raises the risk of over 60 diseases. Credit: Maria Eklind / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

A recent major study conducted by Oxford University has revealed that consuming alcohol can greatly increase the likelihood of developing around 60 different diseases.

While it is widely known that excessive drinking can lead to liver cirrhosis, strokes, and cancer due to long-term damage to the liver, this research has uncovered additional risks associated with alcohol consumption.

The researchers examined data from approximately half a million men residing in China, and their findings indicate that alcohol intake can elevate the chances of developing gout and cataracts.

Moreover, the study also discovered a connection between alcohol and various other disorders that were not previously linked to excessive drinking. These include fractures, lung cancer, and circulatory diseases.

What’s particularly concerning is that some of these associations were observed even in individuals who consumed alcohol in relatively low quantities, below the recommended guidelines provided by the National Health Service (NHS).

Experts familiar with the study emphasize that the results demonstrate a much broader range of diseases associated with alcohol consumption than previously believed.

Excessive alcohol causes three million deaths each year

Each year, approximately 3 million deaths worldwide are attributed to excessive alcohol consumption, according to a WHO report.

To provide some guidance on alcohol intake, the NHS recommends that both men and women should limit their alcohol consumption to no more than 14 units per week. As a point of reference, one unit is equivalent to half a pint of beer or a small glass of wine.

However, the WHO takes a more cautious stance, stating that no amount of alcohol is considered safe. This viewpoint has sparked intense debates among experts in the field.

Some studies have even suggested that consuming a moderate amount of alcohol, such as a glass of wine or a pint of beer per day, could potentially ward off various illnesses.

Research involving over half a million Chinese adults

A collaborative research effort involving Oxford University, Peking University, and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences undertook a comprehensive study on the subject.

Their research relied on a vast Chinese database encompassing the health records of over 512,000 adults with an average age of 52. This database provided valuable insights into their drinking habits.

The study revealed that approximately one-third of the men in the database were regular drinkers, consuming alcohol at least once a week. In contrast, the rate of regular alcohol consumption among women was a mere two percent.

Consequently, women served as a control group, allowing researchers to ascertain whether the increased risk of diseases in men was truly attributable to alcohol consumption rather than genetic factors.

Over a period of 12 years, the researchers carefully analyzed hospital records to evaluate how alcohol consumption impacted the likelihood of developing 207 different diseases.

The outcomes of this study, which have been published in the journal Nature Medicine, unveiled a compelling connection between alcohol use and the heightened risk of 60 diseases among men in China.

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