Study on optimal level of alcohol consumption for chronic disease prevention

BMJ Open published recently a research paper on modelling the impact of changes in average alcohol consumption levels in England, with a view to identify the optimal level of population alcohol consumption for chronic disease prevention.

The study highlights that alcohol consumption is a risk factor for many chronic diseases, while providing modest protection from others. Assessments of the impact of alcohol on individual chronic diseases can therefore result in contradictory advice about the level of alcohol consumption that is optimal for health.

According to the study, the UK Government currently recommends that men should consume no more than three to four units per day (24–32 g/day of pure alcohol) and women should drink no more than two to three units per day (16–24 g/day). However the net impact of this level of consumption on chronic disease mortality is unclear.

Results suggest that the optimum population level of alcohol consumption for minimising chronic disease mortality in England is just 5 g (approximately half a unit) per day.

Current recommendations for alcohol consumption are well above this level and may not be compatible with optimum protection of public health. Substantial reductions in recommendations and in population alcohol consumption levels would be needed to minimise the chronic disease burden associated with alcohol consumption in England.

Community beliefs in the protective role of alcohol in cardiovascular disease are widespread; however, our modelling shows that when multiple conditions are considered simultaneously, the levels of alcohol that would actually be likely to be associated with reduced risk of chronic disease are much lower than is generally accepted or recommended by government.

For more information, please see the following link:


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