Alcohol Intake Linked With Over 200 Illnesses in Chinese Males

Oxford University scientists suggest that alcohol consumption may heighten one's vulnerability to 60 diseases.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately three million deaths occur yearly from excessive alcohol use, accounting for 5.3% of annual global deaths.

Aside from the highly inflated number of deaths, strokes, cancer, and liver cirrhosis are all known hazards of binge drinking. Oxford University researchers, however, have discovered it can also increase the risk of gout and cataracts after analyzing data from half a million Chinese males.

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The study, published in Nature Medicine, also found new associations between alcohol use and lung cancer, cardiovascular problems, and fractures.

Some of the connections were even evident for minimal alcohol intakes. The results, according to experts, demonstrate that drinking alcohol is associated with a greater range of disorders than previously assumed.

The CDC says an average drink in the United States is about 14 grams of pure alcohol, which is roughly translated to five ounces of wine or 12 ounces of beer. The organization goes on to say that individuals who are of legal drinking age can choose not to drink or to drink in moderation by keeping their daily alcohol intake to two drinks or less for males and one drink or less for women. Overall, drinking less is better for your health.

For the study, Peking University and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences collaborated with Oxford researchers to delve deeper into alcohol intake and its link with health complications.

How did they conduct the study?

The researchers evaluated information from a Chinese database of more than 512,000 individuals with an average age of 52. It contained information on their drinking habits. Only 2% of women routinely drank alcohol, compared to over a third of men who did so at least once per week.

To prove that excessive illness risk in males was caused by alcohol use rather than a mechanism connected to genetic variations, women were employed as a control group. To determine how alcohol increased the likelihood of acquiring 207 different illnesses, researchers examined hospital records over 12 years.

The results demonstrate that alcohol usage raises the dangers of 60 illnesses in Chinese males, including 28 conditions the WHO has previously identified as being caused by alcohol, such as liver, bowel, and rectal cancers.

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However, they also discovered 33 new conditions, including stomach ulcers, gout, cataracts, and fractures. The chance of developing specific illnesses, such as liver cirrhosis, was notably elevated by certain drinking habits, such as everyday drinking, binge drinking, or drinking after meals. Additionally, the researchers found dose-dependent associations, with every four beers consumed daily linked to a 14% increased chance of developing an alcohol-related illness.

Additionally, consuming this much alcohol elevated the chance of acquiring 33 newly discovered alcohol-related disorders by 6%. Additionally, there was a more than two-fold increased risk of gout and liver cirrhosis for every four beers consumed daily. Compared to men who only drink sometimes, those who drink regularly had a greater chance of admission and the onset of any illnesses.

"It is becoming clear that the harmful use of alcohol is one of the most important risk factors for poor health, both in China and globally," says senior study author Iona Millwood.

The researchers claimed that the study shows how alcohol use may affect illness risk in communities worldwide.

Fellow researcher Zhengming Chen concludes: "This study provides important causal evidence of the scale of alcohol-related harms, which is critical to inform prevention strategies in different countries."

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