No amount of alcohol is safe. So, now what?

The risks of alcohol consumption have been re-evaluated in a new study that was published in The Lancet. This research for this analysis—which gathered data over the course of 26 years and throughout 195 countries—concluded that no amount of drinking is safe.

So, now what?

The findings of this study may come as a surprise, as it goes against what many believe to be true about the potential heart-health benefits of a glass of wine a day. However, according to this analysis, any benefits from consuming low levels of alcohol are outweighed by the increase in other health-related harm—such as cancer and other diseases.

pour out the wine

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), over 50% of the U.S. population consumes alcohol. It is a huge part of our culture and for many, it can be hard to imagine going to a social function without enjoying a glass of wine or champagne… and what about after-work happy hours and Super Bowl beers?

With these new findings in mind, it can spark some concern for the more than 150 million Americans who consume alcohol. But, let’s consider these risks in another context. Is abstinence the best and only option? Well, not necessarily.

Professor David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge, expressed his cautions on drawing conclusions from this study in an interview with the BBC.

“Given the pleasure presumably associated with moderate drinking, claiming there is no ‘safe’ level does not seem an argument for abstention,” he states.

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

“Come to think of it, there is no safe level of living, but nobody would recommend abstention” Spiegelhalter explains.

In addition, many cancer specialists have expressed that moderate alcohol consumption may be safe. Noelle LoConte, an oncologist and associate professor at the University of Wisconsin gave an interview with NPR, where she stated,

“We’re not proponents of complete abstinence. There probably is an amount of drinking that’s OK. But from a cancer-prevention standpoint, drinking the least amount of alcohol possible would be the best strategy.”

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The Lancet study looked at a wide range of risks associated with alcohol consumption, including diseases, driving accidents and self-harm. These risks are not only tied to general health, but to environmental factors as well. Knowing this, there are steps a person can take to mitigate the risks of consuming alcohol, without having to choose 100% abstinence. While harm reduction is not a one-step, quick fix process, it can be achieved over time with the right goals, tools, and strategies to reduce negative consequences associated with alcohol consumption.

So, where to begin?

There are a number of options to consider when deciding how to cut back on alcohol consumption—including Medically Managed approaches that incorporate anti-craving medications and support teams for changing habits. At Ria Health, we help people to drink less over time. Our approach is based on the latest and most effective scientific research on methods for alcohol reduction. We have helped hundreds of people change their relationship to alcohol based on the goals they set up for themselves—whether to reduce, moderate or eliminate. Most of our members reach their goals in one year or less. Best of all, it is done from the comfort of your own home.

Learn more about how you can change your relationship with alcohol, or contact us at 800-504-5360.

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