Days, months and years alcohol shaves off your life (2024)

One of the foremost experts on alcohol and longevity has revealed the exact amount of days, months and years booze shaves off your life.

And the results may surprise people.

An average of just two drinks per week — bottles of beers, regular glasses of wine, or a couple of shots of liquor — across a lifetime can shorten one's life by just three to six days.

Consuming one drink per day slashes two and half months off a person's life.

It is those who booze heavily — regularly putting away 35 drinks per week (about five drinks per day or two bottles of whiskey over seven days) — that cut their life short by approximately two years.

That's according to Dr Tim Stockwell, a scientist at the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, who was an ardent supporter of moderate drinking until a fellow scientist alerted him to major flaws in the medical research.

Citing findings from expansive research over the last five years or so, including his own which informed the Canadian government’s alcohol guidelines, he said that no amount is good for you.

Dr Stockwell caveats that his predictions are averages and some people are luckier than others when it comes to their health.

But the growing pile of evidence raises questions about whether Americans, including those responsible for issuing health guidelines, have ignored or downplayed the risks associated with drinking because it is such an embedded part of our culture.

Last year, Ireland became the first country in the world to pass legislation that would require all alcohol produces to slap a health warning on booze labels.

The labels will say: 'There is a direct link between alcohol and fatal cancers.' The policy goes into effect in 2026.

Canada, meanwhile, recently proposed revised guidelines torecommend consuming no more than two alcoholic drinks per week, a dramatic reduction from the previous cap of 15 drinks for men and 10 drinks for women.

And last year, President Biden's health czar Dr George Koob predicted that the USDA could revise alcohol consumption advice to match that of Canada.

The official changes in health messaging reflect a seismic shift in the way doctors and everyday Americans view alcohol and how safe it is, based on major studies debunking the myth that a little here and there is healthy.

Last year, Dr Stockwell led a meta-analysis ofmore than 107 studies published over the last four decades that concluded no amount of alcohol improves health and it in fact could increase one's risk of dying of any cause.

And a study in 2022 led by Harvard University scientists reported that 'alcohol consumption at all levels was associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.'

According to the CDC, the average number of deaths annually due to excessive alcohol use, from direct causes like car accidents and liver damage, to indirect causes such as mental health issues or heart disease, increased by about 29 percent from nearly 138,000 in 2016 to 2017 to more than 178,000 in 2020 to 2021.

That's more than the number of drug overdose deaths reported in 2022, which came to about 108,000.

This may seem like a larger number than expected, given Dr Stockwell's relatively moderate conclusions about the impact of alcohol on life expectancy.

Heavy drinkers who consume five drinks a day or more can see their life expectancy shortened by two years or more

However, the discrepancy is likely explained by the fact many alcohol-related deaths happen quickly, for instance a car accident and acute liver failure, which have an immediate impact on mortality rates.

Deaths from chronic diseases like heart disease linked to alcohol develop gradually.

Dr Stockwell said:‘Alcohol is our favorite recreational drug. We use it for pleasure and relaxation, and the last thing we want to hear is that it causes any harm...it’s comforting to think that drinking is good for our health, but unfortunately, it’s based on poor science.’

Alcohol has been shown to damage organs, including the brain and nervous system, the heart, liver, and pancreas. Alcohol itself is a toxin and which causes cell damage and inflammation as it's metabolized.

It can increase blood pressure and contribute to the development of heart disease, interferes with the body's ability to absorb nutrients, and suppresses the immune system.

The belief that moderate amounts of alcohol is healthy stems from a phenomenon that became known as the French paradox - the curious fact that French people, who eat rich, fatty foods and drink above-average quantities of red wine, have relatively low rates of heart disease, compared to other nations.

The notion that drinking moderately was healthy was appealing and Americans were quick to accept it.

But much of the research into the so-called benefits of drinking was funded by the alcohol industry. In fact, a recent report found that 13,500 studies have been directly or indirectly funded by the industry.

Read More What REALLY happens to your body if you ditch alcohol for a month: Experts reveal the health changes you'll see each week...

One major trigger for the re-evaluation of that accepted logic was Dr Stockwell's research which was completed alongsideKaye Middleton Fillmore, a sociologist at the University of California, San Francisco.

They questioned the validity of studies pointing to health benefits. One reason is because individuals who consume red wine often maintain healthier diets and lifestyles, which could explain their overall wellbeing.

This doesn't imply that red wine alone is responsible for health benefits, but rather the lifestyle linked with being a red wine consumer.

The researchers have also suggested that non-drinkers may appear unhealthy in studies because they've quit booze due to a health problem.

Dr Stockwell said: ‘These abstainers are often older people who gave up alcohol because their health was bad.

‘Being able to drink is a sign you are still healthy, not the cause of being in good health.

'There are lots of ways these studies give false results that are misinterpreted to mean alcohol is good for you.’

Federal tracking of alcohol-related deaths has shown those rates ticking up over the past two decades.

Red wine, in particular, has long been considered heart-healthy. It contains compounds called polyphenols, which are believed to help protect the lining of blood vessels in the heart.

One particular polyphenol called resveratrol has received the most attention. However, research into its benefit has only been conducted in mice.

According to Dr Kenneth Mukamal, an internist at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, you'd have to drink a hundred to a thousand glasses of red wine daily to get an amount equivalent to the doses that improved health in mice.

Federal guidelines recommend that men drink no more than two drinks daily and women stick with just one. But research suggests even that is too much.

A 2022 policy statement from the World Heart Federation, WHO’s leading partner in cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention, said: ‘Contrary to popular opinion, alcohol is not good for the heart.

'This directly contradicts common and popular message that alcohol prolongs life, chiefly by reducing the risk of CVD.’

Days, months and years alcohol shaves off your life (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Kareem Mueller DO

Last Updated:

Views: 5727

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (66 voted)

Reviews: 89% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Kareem Mueller DO

Birthday: 1997-01-04

Address: Apt. 156 12935 Runolfsdottir Mission, Greenfort, MN 74384-6749

Phone: +16704982844747

Job: Corporate Administration Planner

Hobby: Mountain biking, Jewelry making, Stone skipping, Lacemaking, Knife making, Scrapbooking, Letterboxing

Introduction: My name is Kareem Mueller DO, I am a vivacious, super, thoughtful, excited, handsome, beautiful, combative person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.