Even light drinking could shorten your life, VA study finds

A new study found that even light drink could be a bad idea.

A study led by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs found that consuming alcoholic beverages daily — even at low levels that meet U.S. guidelines for safe drinking — appears to be "detrimental" to health. Dr. Sarah Hartz, a psychiatrist at the VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System, led the study.

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The researchers found that drinking one to two drinks at least four days per week was linked to a 20 percent increase in the risk of premature death, compared with drinking three times a week or less. The finding was consistent across the group of more than 400,000 people studied. They ranged in age from 18 to 85, and many were veterans.

“There has been mounting evidence that finds light drinking isn’t good for your health,” Hartz said.

Other factors could also contribute to shorter life spans. People who tend to drink more may indeed end up having shorter lives — but not necessarily because of more alcohol consumption. It could be, for example, that those people have harder lives all around, with more stress, which takes a toll on health and longevity, the study found.

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Binge drinking and drunk driving is on the rise among veterans. Since 2013, the number of veterans who’ve been diagnosed with episodes of binge drinking has increased from roughly 14 percent to nearly 16 percent, according to American Addiction Centers. Arrests for drunk driving have also increased, according to the study.

The study analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2017, binge drinking among America’s veterans was highest among those earning the most annually, including more than 18 percent of men and women making $75,000 or more every year.


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