Just half a glass of wine or a small bottle of beer a day can lead to obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure, new research warns.
The risk of metabolic syndrome – a combination of the three life-threatening conditions – increases with alcohol consumption.
A study of nearly 27 million adults adds to the growing evidence that no alcohol content is safe. This could lead to a rethink of official advice.
Main author Dr. Hye Jung Shin of the National Medical Center in Seoul, South Korea, said, “Even light alcohol consumption is linked to metabolic syndrome.”
This can lead to high blood sugar and cholesterol – which increases the chances of heart attack and stroke.
Men who drink an average of half a glass of wine or a quarter of a liter of beer are, on average, ten percent more prone to obesity and metabolic syndrome.
Half a glass of wine a day increases the risk of obesity by nine percent – but reduces the likelihood of metabolic syndrome by three percent – compared to nondrinkers.
Women who ate more than two glasses on average were 22 percent and 18 percent more likely to develop obesity and metabolic syndrome.
Dr. Shin said, “Consuming more than half a normal alcoholic drink per day is associated with an increased risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome in both men and women – and that risk increases proportionately with alcohol consumption.”
He conducts research on obesity at European and international virtual congresses
is based on more than 14 million men and 12 million women in South Korea.
Other factors were taken into account, including participant age, level of exercise, smoking history, and income.
Dr. Shin and colleagues analyzed two years of data from the Korean health insurance system collected in 2015 and 2016.
His team defines a standard drink as 14 grams of alcohol – roughly the equivalent of a small glass (118 ml) of wine or a 355 ml bottle of beer.
In the UK, men and women are advised not to exceed 14 units of alcohol per week – the equivalent of six pints of beer or six glasses of wine.
Dr. Shin said, “There was a significant association between alcohol use and obesity after adjustment for age, exercise, smoking and income in this population – as well as between alcohol use and metabolic syndrome.
“Both men and women who consume more alcohol are more likely to be obese. Similar results are seen in metabolic syndrome.”
He added, “Our results show that the risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome increases in proportion to alcohol consumption when men and women drink more than half a standard drink per day.”
They further blurred the water about whether people should be advised to drink it every day.
Earlier this year, a study found that men and women who had them were up to 40 percent more likely to reach 90 than those who had teeth – or rarely touched alcohol.
The longevity effects were limited to those who drank only one glass a day – people who got drunk would die sooner.
Some experts say that small amounts of alcohol maintain antioxidants that destroy free radicals – harmful chemicals that can cause potentially fatal diseases.
However, a two-year global study of 28 million people found brushing was safer.
The US team estimates that one drink a day increases the risk of 23 alcohol-related health problems by 0.5%.
That’s seven percent for those who drank two glasses a day – and 37 percent for those who drank five.