Those having ten or more drinks, roughly two bottles of wine, had their life expectancy slashed by up to two years, while those drinking 18 or more alcoholic beverages a week can expect to live five years less.
About half of those studied reported drinking more than 12.5 units a week - roughly five pints or medium glasses of wine - while nearly one in ten (8.5 per cent) consumed more than triple that amount.
Recommended limits for safe alcohol consumption are too high in many developed countries and should be lowered to save lives, a study suggested Friday.
The US government now recommends no more than seven drinks a week for women, but twice that amount for men. A new study has quantified the lifespan-shortening effects of alcohol, finding that for every extra glass of wine or pint of beer over a certain limit, people lose 30 minutes of their life.
Alcohol consumption was found to be associated with a lower risk of non-fatal heart attacks but researchers point out that this must be weighed against increased risk of potentially fatal heart disease. For that reason, it's a little unclear exactly how much alcohol is "safe" to drink; in other words, it's hard to tell what level is associated with a low risk of health problems and substance disorders. That's because earlier studies found women are hit by the effects of alcohol at lower amounts than men for several reasons, including women weigh less than men on average and blood alcohol concentrations rise faster.
'We have 40 years of research, which shows light to moderate drinking equals improved cognitive function and memory in ageing as well as reduced chance of vascular dementia, ' said James Calder from the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA).
Researchers looked at 83 studies involving 600,000 people from 19 high-income countries, with nearly half of data coming from the UK.
Co-author, Professor Naveed Sattar of the University of Glasgow, said: "This study provides clear evidence to support lowering the recommended limits of alcohol consumption in many countries around the world". Drinking raises the risk of both cancer and heart disease, and one study suggested that drinking accounts for 15 percent of breast cancer cases.
But there is a benefit to drinking alcohol.
The National Health and Medical Research Council says the Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol 2009 are now under review.
A new research conducted by the University of Cambridge, partly funded by the British Heart Foundation reveals that regular drinking of alcohol could shorten our life.
Several Australian studies were part of this collaboration, contributing to the research and making the findings relevant to Australians.
If the MACH15 study produces an outcome favorable to the alcohol industry, Saitz and others believe it will be used by the industry to make health claims about its products even as more independent studies are consistently showing that people ought to be drinking less alcohol, not more.