By Karen D’Souza
The Mercury News
Want to make a toast to your health? Just stick to drinking three or fewer times a week. On the heels of a slew of studies suggesting that even moderate drinking may be hazardous to your health, there is new research that suggests that drinking three times a week may be the cutoff.
Conducted by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, the latest study, which was published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, showed that drinking lightly four or more times per week may raise the risk of early death.
People who partook four or more times per week had a roughly 20 percent higher risk of dying during the study period than those who drank three or fewer times per week, the study found. This flies in the face of conventional wisdom that has linked light drinking to heart health and other advantages.
“The cutoff seems to be that we shouldn’t drink more than three times a week,” says study co-author Dr. Sarah Hartz, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, as Time reported. “The frequency of drinking does matter, in the same way that taking a medicine matters. If you take a medicine once a week, it impacts you differently than if you take a medicine every day.”
Remember that this study, which analyzed data from more than 400,000 people ages 18 to 85, looked at how many times a week someone drank. The assumption is that you never drink in excess, sipping on one or two drinks on each occasion. That means that having a glass of wine with dinner every night might be dangerous. Gulp.
“Daily drinking, even at low levels, is detrimental to one’s health,” as the study authors put it.
This research might track with a recent study published in the Lancet, which reviewed data from more than 700 studies around the world and concluded that the safest level of drinking is none. Zilch. Zero.
However, that study looked at all types of imbibing, from light alcohol consumption to binge drinking, as Science Daily noted. The Washington University team analysis focused only on light drinkers: those who consumed only one or two drinks a day.
Here’s to your health.