Alcohol is a global killer, study finds

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Alcohol kills 2.8 million people every year globally, causing cancer, heart disease and road accidents and even by worsening tuberculosis, researchers said Thursday.

They found no evidence that light drinking might help keep people healthy and said there’s no evidence that drinking any alcohol at all improves health.

Governments need to change the guidance they give to their citizens and should consider taxes and other measures to discourage drinking, the international team of researchers reported in the Lancet Medical Journal.

“Although the health risks associated with alcohol start off being small with one drink a day, they then rise rapidly as people drink more,” Dr. Max Griswold of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, who led the study team, said in a statement.

“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.”

The large international team, which included hundreds of researchers, examined data from more than 1,000 studies.

There is some evidence that alcohol may reduce the risk of heart disease very slightly, but that effect is more than outweighed by the other damage it causes. Alcohol use comes in seventh as an overall cause of death, said the team, whose work was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.