Age and Alcohol consumption, what it means | Mental Health Matters

Mental HealthMales Under 40 Face Highest Risk Related to Alcohol Consumption

Individuals under the age of 40—particularly males—face higher risks from alcohol consumption than older adults, according to new research published this month in The Lancet.

For adults over 40 who have no underlying health conditions, however, consuming small amounts of alcohol (defined as 1 to 2 standard drinks per day) could produce some health benefits, including a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes.

The 39-and-under crowd, meanwhile, receives no health benefits from alcohol consumption, the researchers wrote in their findings.

The study’s authors recommended that alcohol consumption guidelines be revised to emphasize consumption levels by age, and they also called for policies targeting males under 40, the population identified as being most likely to consume alcohol harmfully.

“While it may not be realistic to think young adults will abstain from drinking, we do think it’s important to communicate the latest evidence so that everyone can make informed decisions about their health,” senior author Emmanuela Gakidou, MSc, PhD, professor of health metrics sciences at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine, said in a news release.

Findings in the study were based on an analysis of alcohol use estimates from 204 countries. Researchers calculated that 1.34 billion individuals consumed harmful amounts of alcohol in 2020. Males under the age of 40 were identified as the largest segment of the population drinking unsafe amounts of alcohol in every region, with 60% of alcohol-related injuries (including motor vehicle crashes, suicides, and homicides) occurring in this demographic.

TMental Healthhe recommended amount of alcohol for individuals under 40 before risking health loss was slightly more than just one-tenth of a standard drink.

For adults ages 40 to 65 with no underlying health conditions, safe alcohol consumption levels ranged from approximately one-half of a standard drink to 2 standard drinks.

For those over 65, risks of health loss from alcohol consumption reached males after consuming 3.2 standard drinks per day and females consuming 3.5.

The study authors acknowledged certain limitations of their research, such as not examining patterns of drinking, which would differentiate study participants who infrequently binge drink vs those who consume smaller, consistent amounts of alcohol over several days.

Alcohol consumption tracked in the study was also self-reported by participants, and data on consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic was not available.


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