Scientists have claimed there is no safe level of alcohol consumption, despite previous research suggesting moderate levels of alcohol could protect against heart disease.
A global study of alcohol consumption and health outcomes has come down on the side of no alcohol, saying the harms of drinking outweigh any benefits.
Across the globe, one in three people drink alcohol and alcohol is associated with 2.8 million deaths each year, according to the Global Burden of Disease study published in The Lancet medical journal.
In a separate study last year, it was found that one in five Ballarat adults drink at levels considered high risk, consuming an average of more than two drinks per day. A third binge drink at least once a month, and one in six binge drink at least once a year.
Those who drink less than two standard drinks per day, which is almost two third of Ballarat adults, were considered to be low risk but the new report suggests otherwise.
The Lancet study authors estimate that consuming just one drink per day increases the risk of developing one of 23 alcohol-related health problems by 0.5 per cent, compared with not drinking at all.
That small percentage would mean that 918 people per 100,000 who consumed one alcoholic drink a day would develop a health problem compared with 914 who did not drink.
RELATED STORY: Cut alcohol to less than 10 drinks a week
Worldwide, drinking alcohol was the seventh leading risk factor for overall premature death and disease in 2016, and was associated with nearly one in ten deaths in people aged 15-49 years old.
Turning Point clinical director Dr Matthew Frei said the findings did not come as a surprise.
“The supposed cardio-protective effects of a couple of glasses of wine doesn’t really hold up in evidence,” he said.
Australia’s national guidelines state two standard drinks a day should be the upper limit if you drink regularly.
“I don’t think risk suddenly starts at two drinks. Alcohol-related harm is always going to be dose related but this study seems to be saying there’s still some risk at lower levels but it’s going to be a smaller risk,” Dr Frei said.
The study used data from 694 studies to estimate how common drinking alcohol is worldwide, and 592 studies involving 28 million people to study the health risks associated with alcohol in 195 countries.
For people over the age of 50, cancers were the leading cause of alcohol-related deaths, responsible for 27.1 per cent of alcohol-related deaths of women and 18.9 per cent of men.
Other harmful consequences of alcohol included accidents and violence.
Have you signed up to The Courier's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in Ballarat.