That evening glass of wine has always seemed like a relatively guilt-free indulgence, but new research shows that the only way to avoid risking health is to quit drinking altogether.
A huge new study published in the Lancet has concluded that there is no safe limit to alcohol consumption—meaning even minimal amounts could be harmful.
The study, from the Global Burden of Disease, looked at data from 15 to 95-year-olds in 195 countries, including the UK, between 1990 and 2016. A total of 28 million people participated.
Results showed that out just one drink a day increases the risk of developing one of 23 alcohol-related illnesses—such as cancer—by 0.5 percent, when compared with not drinking at all.
This percentage increased with every extra drink per day.
Many previous studies on alcohol consumption have shown that one drink a day for women and two a day for men could protect against heart disease. However, researchers in this study believe the harms massively outweigh the benefits.
Lead researcher Dr. Max Griswold, from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, said:
"Previous studies have found a protective effect of alcohol on some conditions, but we found that the combined health risks associated with alcohol increase with any amount of alcohol. In particular, the strong association between alcohol consumption and the risk of cancer, injuries, and infectious diseases offset the protective effects for ischaemic heart disease in women in our study. Although the health risks associated with alcohol start off being small with one drink a day, they then rise rapidly as people drink more."
The government recommends no more than 14 units per week, which equates to seven glasses of wine.
It found that worldwide, drinking alcohol was the seventh leading risk factor for overall premature death and disease in 2016.
In people aged 15 to 49 it was the most important risk factor, accounting for 3.8 of women's and 12.2 percent of men's deaths.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.