The number of daily glasses of wine scientists say won’t kill you

People cheers glasses of wine
People cheers glasses of wine

Good news for anyone who looks forward to a tipple at the end of the day – research has found that having one large glass of wine a day for women, or two for men, does not increase your risk of dying.

Scientists from Canada reviewed data from more than 100 studies that included almost five million people and compared the risk of an early death, from any cause, with alcohol consumption.

Consumption of up to 25g of ethanol a day was found to have no link to increased mortality. This, the team says, is equivalent to drinking around three UK alcohol units a day.

The NHS states that one unit equals 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol, which is roughly how much the human body can process in an hour. One unit of alcohol should, in theory, be flushed out of a person’s system in 60 minutes.

A large glass of wine is around three units and a pint of lager is around two.

The 25g daily amount equates to drinking 21 units a week without suffering an impact on risk of death. The NHS guidelines advise both men and women to not drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week.

Data show that when all other health factors were taken into account, including BMI, smoking status and exercise, there was a gender difference between men and women.

Men were found to be able to consume up to 44g of ethanol a day without increasing their risk of an early demise. This is equivalent to 5.5 units, or two large glasses of wine, daily. For women, this medium level of consumption was linked to a 21 per cent increase in death risk.

“This systematic review and meta-analysis of 107 cohort studies involving more than 4.8 million participants found no significant reductions in risk of all-cause mortality for drinkers who drank less than 25g of ethanol per day,” the researchers from the University of Victoria in Canada wrote in their study, published in JAMA.

“There was a significantly increased risk of all-cause mortality among female drinkers who drank 25 or more grams per day and among male drinkers who drank 45 or more grams per day.

“Low-volume alcohol drinking was not associated with protection against death from all causes,” the scientists add.

“High volume” male drinkers of up to 65g of ethanol a day, or eight UK units, were found to be 15 per cent more likely to die early.

This level of consumption would involve having two large glasses of wine a day as well as a pint of lager.

In contrast, a woman who drinks this much alcohol every day has a 34 per cent increased risk of an early death.

High-consumption poses risk

The highest consumption group was classed as more than 65 grams of ethanol a day. This is associated with a 34 and 61 per cent increased risk of early death for men and women, respectively.

In the study, the scientists say there is no evidence that drinking, of any amount, reduces a person’s risk of early death, but there is a window where alcohol consumption does not appear to be associated with an increased risk.

“A larger risk of all-cause mortality for women than men was observed when drinking 25 or more grams per day, including a significant increase in risk for medium-level consumption for women that was not observed for men,” the scientists wrote in the study.

“However, mortality risk for mean consumption up to 25g per day were very similar for both sexes.”