Irish women rank higher than men in global league table of alcohol consumption

Irish women rank higher than men in global league table of alcohol consumption
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Irish women are having an average of three alcoholic drinks a day, according to a new study.

A global study carried out by researchers at the University of Washington and published in the Lancet Medical Journal today shows that Irish women now rank higher than men in an international league table of alcohol consumption.

According to the Global Burden of Diseases study, which was completed by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), females here are now seventh in the world for the amount of alcohol they drink on a daily basis.

Irish men have around four and a half drinks a day but do not make it into the top ten male consumers globally.

The report warns that women may think that having one glass of wine is not harmful but they may actually be pouring themselves three measures.

The study says just one drink a day can slightly increase the chances of contracting 23 alcohol-related health problems.

It found that alcohol caused the deaths of 2.8 million people in 2016, including 12% of deaths in males between the ages of 15 and 49.

“The health risks associated with alcohol are massive,” said Dr Emmanuela Gakidou of the IHME and the senior author of the study.

“Our findings are consistent with other recent research, which found clear and convincing correlations between drinking and premature death, cancer, and cardiovascular problems.

"Zero alcohol consumption minimizes the overall risk of health loss.”

The study data from 694 data sources and 592 studies to compile information on 195 countries from 1990 to 2016.

In 2016, the leading countries with the highest death rates attributable to alcohol among 15 to 49-year-olds were Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, Mongolia, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Lesotho, Burundi, and the Central African Republic.

The lowest death rates were in Kuwait, Iran, Palestine, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, Syria, the Maldives and Singapore.

"With the largest collected evidence base to date, our study makes the relationship between health and alcohol clear – drinking causes substantial health loss, in myriad ways, all over the world," Dr Gakidou said.

“There is a compelling and urgent need to overhaul policies to encourage either lowering people’s levels of alcohol consumption or abstaining entirely,” she said.

“The myth that one or two drinks a day are good for you is just that – a myth. This study shatters that myth.”

Commenting on today's release, the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI) said it believes moderate alcohol consumption can be part of a well-balanced lifestyle.

Head of the Irish Whiskey Association, William Lavelle, said: “The Lancet Study published today is one of a number of reports published in recent weeks and months outlining the pros and cons of drinking. With such a volume of conflicting evidence, it is hardly surprising that people might be confused about what is a safe level of drinking.

“The Lancet Study suggests that there is no safe level of drinking which contradicts the findings of other scientific studies which have found that moderate consumption can result in improved health outcomes," he said.

"It is unrealistic to suggest that people should just stop drinking, however, it is important that there is an overall better awareness about the HSE low-risk guidelines."

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