Alcohol & mortality

Executive summary

* This week's note is about something I don't like the taste of – alcohol.

* A large systematic review identified 107 population studies, which had examined alcohol intake and deaths from any cause. This is good evidence, with caveats as I explain.

* The UK uses units when talking about alcohol intake. A unit is 8g of alcohol. The US uses standard drinks. These contain 14g of alcohol.

* This systematic review compared occasional, low, medium, high and highest-volume drinkers with lifetime non-drinkers. The non-drinker category is complex (I explain why). This study handled it well.

* The study found that occasional and low volume drinkers were at no greater risk of early death than non-drinkers.

* There was a sex difference. Women medium-volume drinkers were at higher risk than non-drinkers. Men needed to be high-volume drinkers before their risk was higher than non-drinkers.


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