Study says people under 40 should never drink - healing practice

No health benefits of alcohol for young people

The largest study of its kind on alcohol to date concludes that drinking alcohol between the ages of 15 and 39 brings no health benefits but many risks. From the age of 40, however, small amounts of alcohol can have a beneficial effect on health.

The so-called "Global Burden of Diseases" study, which is being carried out as part of a project at the University of Washington in Seattle (USA), shows that alcohol poses significant health risks and that young people cannot derive any benefit from their consumption. However, small amounts may be beneficial for the elderly. The results were recently presented in the renowned journal The Lancet.

Alcohol has no health benefits for young people

According to the University of Washington, more than 1.3 billion people worldwide, mostly men, are associated with harmful alcohol consumption. Young adults in particular seem to see no health benefits from drinking, only risks.

However, in healthy adults over the age of 40, a small amount of alcohol, such as 100 to 200 milliliters of red wine per day, may be associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and heart disease. diabetes.

Alcohol recommendations within guidelines too high

The researchers involved are calling for a review of current guidelines on alcohol consumption. The risk of harmful alcohol consumption is highest in men under 40 years of age. Recommendations on alcohol levels considered safe in existing guidelines are too high, especially for young people.

Alcohol-related risks disaggregated by age, sex and region

As part of the study, the task force has for the first time broken down the risks of alcohol consumption by age, sex and region. This has clearly shown that young people in particular can only expect health disadvantages from alcohol consumption.

Young people should not drink alcohol

"Our message is simple: young people should not drink alcohol, but older people can benefit from drinking small amounts," confirms the study's lead author, Professor Dr. Emmanuela Gakidou of the Washington University School of Medicine.

"While quitting drinking isn't realistic for young adults, we believe it's important to communicate the latest findings so that everyone can make informed decisions about their health," she said. .

Consumption habits of 204 countries taken into account

The research team analyzed various 2020 datasets on consumer habits across 204 countries. It turned out that about 60% of people who drink alcohol dangerously are under 40 years old. Three quarters of this group are men.

Consequences of alcohol in young people

Heavy alcohol consumption was associated with an increased risk of injuries, accidents, car crashes, suicide and homicide, especially among young people. Health benefits have not been demonstrated in this age group.

Benefits of low alcohol consumption after 40

In adults ages 40 to 64, one to two standard alcoholic beverages a day have been linked to a reduced risk of certain conditions, including heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

In adults over 65, even drinking up to three standard alcoholic beverages was sometimes associated with a health benefit.

A standard alcoholic drink is, for example, 100 milliliters of wine with 13% alcohol or 375 milliliters of beer with 3.5% alcohol.

On average, safe alcohol consumption for adults aged 40 and over was 1.87 standard drinks per day. Consumption above this level has been associated with an increased risk of various diseases.

The team was able to link a total of 22 health consequences to hazardous alcohol consumption, including an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, injury and degenerative diseases.

No safe alcohol consumption before age 40

For young people under 40, the risks of alcohol consumption outweigh the benefits with less than one standard drink per day (in men from 0.136 drinks per day, in women from 0.273 drinks on average). (vb)

Author and source information

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This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.


Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


The Lancet: Alcohol consumption has significant health risks and no benefits for young people; Some older adults may benefit from drinking a small amount of alcohol (Published: 2022-07-14), Dana Bryazka, Marissa B Reitsma, Max G Griswold, et al. : Population-level risks of alcohol consumption by amount, geography, age, sex, and year: a systematic review for the 2020 Global Burden of Disease Study; in: The Lancet (2022),

Important note:
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.