Drinking ten glasses of wine a week can cut life expectancy by two years, a major study says.
Even a daily glass of wine or pint of beer significantly raises the risk of heart disease and stroke.
This likelihood of an early death increases the more alcohol is consumed, the Cambridge-led researchers said.
Experts concluded that, for a 40-year-old, each unit above guidelines takes away, on average, about 15 minutes of their life. That is about the same as smoking one cigarette.
The findings support recently lowered guidelines in the UK, which suggest there is no safe level and recommend that both men and women’s drinking should not exceed 14 units a week.
Lead author Dr Angela Wood said: ‘The key message of this research is that if you already drink alcohol, drinking less may help you live longer and lower your risk of several cardiovascular conditions.’
Alcohol is linked to a host of health complaints including heart problems, liver disease, several types of cancer and dementia.
t is now the sixth biggest cause of illness for those in their 50s and 60s, with numbers rising. Experts say even moderate drinking can raise blood pressure, which is a well-known cause of heart attack, stroke and other circulation problems.
Researchers looked at 83 studies involving 600,000 people from 19 high-income countries, with almost half of data coming from the UK.
About half of those studied reported drinking more than 12.5 units a week – roughly five pints or medium glasses of wine – while almost one in ten (8.5 per cent) consumed more than triple that amount. Scientists found a 40-year-old exceeding the benchmark of 100g of pure alcohol, around five drinks a week, had their life expectancy shortened by six months.
Those having ten or more drinks, roughly two bottles of wine, had their life expectancy slashed by up to two years, while those drinking 18 or more alcoholic beverages a week can expect to live five years less.