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You’ve heard about the health benefits of alcohol in moderation, but exceeding those limits even a little could shave years off of your life.

Arielle Weg
April 13, 2018

Even if you consider yourself a moderate drinker—a glass of wine or single beer a night—you may be drinking way too much alcohol. A new study published in Lancet Medical Journal by researchers at the University of Cambridge found the current United States moderate drinking guidelines are far too high.

The American Heart Association and the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention define moderate drinking as two drinks for men and one drink for women, but new findings suggest consuming just seven drinks a week can increase risk of mortality.

The study followed 600,000 people from 19 high-income countries. Participants were asked about their drinking habits, and their health was tracked for years after.

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The study found those who reported drinking less than 100 grams of alcohol weekly, or approximately seven drinks, had the lowest mortality rate. The mortality rate increased considerably beyond that threshold.

Those who reported consuming about seven to 14 drinks per week had a lower life expectancy of six months. In addition, participants who reported 14 to 18 drinks per week had a lower life expectancy of one to two years, and those who reported more than 18 drinks per week had a lower life expectancy of four to five years.

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"This study has shown that drinking alcohol at levels which were believed to be safe is actually linked with lower life expectancy and several adverse health outcomes," co-author Dan G. Blazer of Duke University said, according to USA Today.

In the United States, two in three adult drinkers report drinking above moderate levels at least once a month, according to the CDC. In a country that already goes beyond the generous health recommendations, researchers are urging the government to reconsider their guidelines in the future.