New Data: Alcohol Is More Deadly For Certain Age Groups

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A glass of red wine is good for your heart... Alcohol increases breast cancer risk... Drinking is okay in moderation... It's better to abstain from alcohol... Are you confused yet?!?

While previous alcohol research may suggest otherwise, a new analysis in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs says we’ve likely been underestimating the health risks of drinking in young people.

Researchers from Boston Medical Center determined that studies showing the benefits from moderate alcohol consumption tend to enroll people over the age of 50, thus eliminating folks who died before then, perhaps from causes linked to drinking. This theory is supported by the fact that more than 40 percent of alcohol-related deaths occur before the big 5-0. Also, according to the researchers, participants in the studies may have been healthier overall and may have had healthier drinking habits throughout their lifetimes.

Using government stats, including causes of death, from the CDC, the analysis found that, for people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, the potential risks of drinking far outweigh the potential benefits. Although about 36 percent of the total deaths caused by alcohol occurred in people aged 20 to 49, alcohol was determined to have helped reduce the risk of death by only about 5 percent in this age group. In people over the age of 65, alcohol contributed to 35 percent of total deaths, but alcohol consumption helped prevent 80 percent of deaths.

When the researchers looked at potential “years of life lost” and “years of life saved” related to alcohol, they found that around 58 percent of years lost and about 14 percent of years saved occurred in people 20 to 49. Seniors older than 65 accounted for 15 percent of years of life lost from alcohol consumption overall, but more than 50 percent of years of life saved.