The Hidden Health Risks of That Extra Drink

The Hidden Health Risks of That Extra Drink

How much alcohol is too much?

“It’s quarter to three and there’s no one in the place, but you and me. One for my baby and one more for the road.” That’s the chorus of the hit song, “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road),” originally performed by Fred Astaire in the 1943 movie The Sky’s the Limit and later popularized by Frank Sinatra in the 1950s.

The supposed coolness of that attitude toward drinking and driving is hard to accept these days—and getting harder as the days go by. According to a new study published in the Lancet, the current US guidelines for moderate drinking (one a day for women, two for men) threaten your health by upping your risk for stroke, heart failure, fatal aortic aneurysms, fatal hypertensive disease, heart failure and even a shortened life expectancy.

Researchers looked at the health and drinking habits of 600,000 people in 19 countries and found the upper limit for drinking without shortening your lifespan was five drinks weekly. Having 10 or more drinks a week was associated with living for one to two fewer years, while downing 18 or more alcoholic beverages weekly was linked to living four or five fewer years. This data conflicts with much data accumulated in prior years, so we really don’t know the optimal amount to drink for your lowest risk of disability and death.

Bottom line? An extra drink or two before you hit the road (always in a cab!) might not be as cool as previously thought.