Many experts believe that men 65 and younger can safely consume up to two alcoholic beverages a day without adverse effects as long as they don’t have underlying health problems. According to the Mayo Clinic, moderate alcohol use may possibly offer some benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
However, new research challenges the notion that two drinks a day are okay. According to researchers from the Centre for Digestive Diseases of the Division of Hepatology, based at Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden, alcohol may affect men’s health more than previously believed. And it goes back to their habits as teenagers.
“Our study showed that how much you drink in your late teens can predict the risk of developing cirrhosis later in life,” explained lead investigator Hannes Hagström.
Hagström added that “a safe cut-off in men” remains unclear, reports Medical News Today.
The researchers focused on the connection between late teenage drinking and its effect on health, particularly liver disease, in adulthood. Alcohol consumption is also a risk factor for heart disease and certain types of cancer.
Researchers examined data from 49,000 men from 1969 to 2009, tracking participants who developed a severe liver disease. Hagström and his team took into account factors such as body mass index (BMI), smoking, narcotic drug use, and cognitive and cardiovascular health. They concluded that men who appeared to have consumed alcohol during late adolescence were more prone to developing liver disease as adults.
The risk of developing the disease correlated to how much alcohol they consumed. Two drinks a day, or about 20 grams, was linked to a higher risk of liver disease. Additional drinks pushed the risk even higher.
Even more troubling, the researchers found negative health results for those who consumed just six grams of alcohol per day.
The study is not without its limitations, and the researchers emphasized that further research is needed. They concluded that men may want to cut down the number of drinks they consume per day to prevent future health problems.
Hagström said: “If these results lead to lowering the cut-off levels for a ‘safe’ consumption of alcohol in men, and if men adhere to recommendations, we may see a reduced incidence of alcoholic liver disease in the future.”
The findings were published in the Journal of Hepatology.