British women now among top drinkers in the world

The new study concluded that any beneficial effects against ischemic heart disease were outweighed by the adverse

The new study concluded that any beneficial effects against ischemic heart disease were outweighed by the adverse

Drinking patterns varied globally with the highest number of current alcohol drinkers in Denmark - 95.3 per cent of women, and 97.1 per cent of men - while New Zealand had the fifth highest prevalence of female drinkers at 88 per cent. Kiwi men didn't feature in the top 10.

British men, meanwhile, came 62nd in the male category, drinking a similar amount to British women.

In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Robyn Burton of King's College London calls the research "the most comprehensive estimate of the global burden of alcohol use to date".

"There is no safe level of alcohol", said Max Griswold, a researcher at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle, Washington and lead author for a consortium of more than 500 experts. This has led to the built-up of a social perception that drinking alcohol is okay.

A recent analysis of data from almost 700 studies in The Lancet medical journal (via Bloomberg) found that there is absolutely no benefit to drinking alcohol as its health risks far outweigh any benefits you might get from it, like winding down after a long day or being able to tolerate people you can't stand for a few hours at a time.

During this study, researchers did find some benefits to heart and towards prevention of diabetes and stroke that were related to alcohol consumption, however, the benefits of a total abstinence far outweighed these little positives. For every 100,000 non-drinkers, 914 develop the same problems - a difference of just four.

How risky is moderate drinking?

David Spiegelhalter, professor for the public understanding of risk at the University of Cambridge, said: "Claiming there is no 'safe" level does not seem an argument for abstention.

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"There is no safe level of driving, but the government does not recommend that people avoid driving".

"If you're drinking because you are in a group where you are having one or two bottles of wine in a social setting it's hard to say "I might have a problem", because others will then say "if you have one, I must do too" and it's hard to talk about that".

Bad news for those who enjoy what they think is a healthy glass of wine a day.

He added that the study - which gathered data from 28million people in 195 countries over 26 years - also cast doubt on United Kingdom official guidelines.

The researchers proposed that alcoholic drinks be made less affordable and appealing by increasing taxes on them and regulating their price, the marketing of drinks and where alcohol can be sold.

Professor Spiegelhalter said: 'This analysis seems to strongly support the idea of the current United Kingdom guidelines being described as very low-risk'.

Two drinks a day meant a 7 per cent increased risk, compared with those who were teetotal, soaring to 37 per cent risk for for those downing five drinks daily.

Rather, the findings apply more to people who have one drink a day, most days of the week, Humphreys said.

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