Hold my beer — and live longer
ONE beer a day, and maybe two on weekends - that's the recommended limit that medical experts are pushing for as a trade-off for up to five extra years of life.
New research indicates cutting booze significantly more than the current guidelines can give a 40-year-old five extra years of life.
The Canadian research, published today in journal The Lancet, comes as federal authorities look at overhauling existing guidelines and the Federal Government considers possible new regulations for the alcohol industry.
Health experts have hailed the study as a "landmark report" which may eventually see the current guidelines cut tofewer than ten drinks a week.
The analysis of more than half a million drinkers worldwide suggests alcohol consumption should be limited to below 100g per week - less than 10 standard Aussie drinks - to lower the risk of death from any cause.
The ten standard drinks per week limit is significantly lower than the "no more than two a day" that can be consumed within the Australian Guidelines by the National Health and Medical Research Council.
The research, which included Australian data, found that drinking more than this amount weekly lowered people's life expectancy at age 40 by between six months and five years. The more people drank, the higher the risk of a range of life-threatening illnesses, including stroke and heart failure.
The study comes as the NHMRC reviews the Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol 2009, which a spokesman said "remain NHMRC's current advice".
Director of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of NSW, Professor Michael Farrell, called the research a landmark study but noted: "It probably does not add too much to what we already know about this."
Queensland Alcohol and Drug Research and Education Centre Emeritus Professor Jake Najman said the research would be important to potential new regulations for the alcohol industry.
"There has been a fiction used by the alcohol industry to maintain almost unrestrained advertising for its products, that small quantities of alcohol are beneficial, even healthy," he said.
"This study makes it clear that alcohol leads to many other diseases which, in total, increase the risk of death.
"Health Minister Greg Hunt is currently considering legislation to regulate the alcohol industry. His understanding of the findings of this study may be important in the decisions he makes."