People should completely abstain from drinking, suggests the newest and largest study conducted into the impacts of alcohol, as even a casual amount can lead to harmful health risks.
The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study published in the medical journal The Lancet, states that alcohol resulted in nearly 3 million deaths in 2016 and was the main cause of death and disability amongst the 15–49 age bracket.
The report systematically analysed data from around 600 studies in 195 countries between 1990 and 2016, involving 28 million people globally, making it the most detailed piece of research on the subject to date.
They found that the risk of developing an alcohol-linked disease, such as cancer, increased by 0.5% for those who have one drink a day. This skyrocketed to 7% for those who have two drinks a day and 37% for those who have five drinks.
This research destroys the common myth that drinking in moderation bears health benefits, such as a glass of wine a day being good for the heart. This is due to the harmful effects outweighing any possible benefits.
Interestingly, these latest findings confirm statements from the Qur’an regarding alcohol consumption, however, they are 1,400 years too late. Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) tells us in Surah Baqarah:
يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ ۖ قُلْ فِيهِمَا إِثْمٌ كَبِيرٌ وَمَنَافِعُ لِلنَّاسِ وَإِثْمُهُمَا أَكْبَرُ مِن نَّفْعِهِمَا
“They ask you about wine and gambling. Say, “In them is great sin and [yet, some] benefit for people. But their sin is greater than their benefit.”
Highlighting the importance of the findings, lead researcher Dr Max Griswold, from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), said:
“Previous studies have found a protective effect of alcohol on some conditions, but we found that the combined health risks associated with alcohol increase with any amount of alcohol.
In particular, the strong association between alcohol consumption and the risk of cancer, injuries, and infectious diseases offset the protective effects for heart disease in our study.
Although the health risks associated with alcohol start off being small with one drink a day, they then rise rapidly as people drink more”.
As a result of the study’s findings, the government has been advised to take steps in its public health policy to reduce population-level alcohol consumption.
Dr Robyn Burton, from King’s College London, said:
“These diseases of unhealthy behaviours, facilitated by unhealthy environments and fuelled by commercial interests putting shareholder value ahead of the tragic human consequences, are the dominant health issue of the 21st century.
Public health policy should be to prioritise measures to reduce the numbers who drink through price increases, taxation, or setting the price according to the strength of the drink (minimum unit pricing), followed by curbs on marketing and restricting the places where people can buy alcohol.”