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.
"Although non-fatal heart attacks are less likely in people who drink, this benefit is swamped by the increased risk of other forms of heart disease including fatal heart attacks and stroke".
The Australian guidelines published in 2009 are nearly a decade old and recommend "healthy men and women" drink no more than two standard drinks on any day to reduce the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury.
Dr. Angela Wood of Cambridge University led the research.
Pooling data from 83 studies of current drinkers in 19 high income countries, researchers linked an alcohol intake of more than 3.5 oz. alcohol-about seven standard United States drinks-with higher mortality.
However, drinking above this limit was linked with lower life expectancy.
The researchers found that regularly drinking over this was linked to lower life expectancy. In Britain, that's about six pints of beer a week.
The authors note that the different relationships between alcohol intake and various types of cardiovascular disease can be explained, at least in part, by the effect of alcohol consumption on elevated blood pressure and on factors related to lipoprotein cholesterol. Alcohol drinking is linked to strokes, heart failure, and fatal aneurysm.
"We should always remember that alcohol guidelines should act as a limit, not a target, and try to drink well below this threshold", said Victoria Taylor, a senior dietitian at the British Heart Foundation. However, the overall effects of drinking more than seven drinks a week are more bad than good, lead researcher Wood said.
For the new study, the researchers analyzed information from 599,912 people in high-income countries who drank alcohol but did not have heart disease at the study's start.
The work of British scientists confirmed the previous study according to which the safe dose of alcohol for men and women - 112 grams of alcohol per week. Above this, there was increased risk of both heart attack and heart disease.
Co-author, Professor Naveed Sattar of the University of Glasgow, said: "This study provides clear evidence to support lowering the recommended limits of alcohol consumption in many countries around the world". They include Italy, Portugal and Spain as well as the USA, where for men the recommended limit is nearly double. Drinking the equivalent of 100-200g of pure alcohol a week shortened life expectancy by about six months compared to drinking less than 100g, they found. But this study also suggests that whatever level you drink at, even if it's under the guidelines, drinking even less will help reduce your health risks.
But there is a benefit to drinking alcohol.
Nowcomes a huge study spearheaded by the UK's University of Cambridge published in The Lancetthis week. They also noted that the study was not able to account for people who reduced their alcohol consumption due to health complications.
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