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Alcohol and your health – is it time to rethink the drink?

Jean Hailes Magazine 11 Jun 2019
Last drinks web

As more research links alcohol with ill-health, is it closing time on Australia's love affair with booze?


  1. Largest-ever study confirms no safe level of drinking alcohol.
  2. Alcohol is more harmful for women than men, and increases the risk of breast and other cancers, heart disease and early death.
  3. Women can enjoy improved health and wellbeing by reducing alcohol intake.

During Australia's penal era, more alcohol was consumed per person than at any other time in history. Rum was even used as currency. Today things are different. The Australian Bureau of Statistics says that Australians are drinking at the lowest level in 50 years, amounting to around 2.6 standard drinks per person per day.

Yet the recent headlines about alcohol have been … well … rather sobering. The largest ever study to assess alcohol and disease has concluded that there is no safe level of drinking alcohol. This news is especially worrying for women, given that alcohol is more toxic to women than men, and takes longer to process. This is due to the smaller percentage of water in a woman's body, and because the protein that breaks down alcohol is produced in smaller quantities in smaller livers.

The study, published in the international medical journal The Lancet, showed that three million deaths globally were due to alcohol use in 2016. The findings mirror other studies which link alcohol with premature death, heart disease, and cancer, particularly breast cancer. In Australia alone, more than 5500 lives are lost every year due to alcohol use.

Jean Hailes endocrinologist Dr Sonia Davison says there is a lot of debate about what is 'safe' alcohol use and the study reinforces the overall message "that zero alcohol intake is safest".

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