The Global Burden of Disease Study 2016 has calculated levels of alcohol use and its effects on health during 1990–2016 in 195 countries.
The research, which now features in the journal The Lancet, notes that in 2016, alcohol use was responsible for almost 3 million deaths globally.
Alcohol use was the main cause of death for people aged 15–49 that year, accounting for 12 percent of deaths in men of that age.
"Our findings," says senior study author Dr. Emmanuela Gakidou, who currently works at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington in Seattle, "are consistent with other recent research, which found clear and convincing correlations between drinking and premature death, cancer, and cardiovascular problems."
She and her colleagues conclude that the "safest level of drinking is none." They explain that this is "in conflict with most health guidelines, which espouse health benefits associated with consuming up to two drinks per day."
Large variations in drinking patterns
More than 500 researchers, academics, and other collaborators from over 40 countries worked on the study.
To estimate global alcohol consumption, they used data from 694 studies and then used another 592 studies covering 28 million people to examine impact on health.
The results revealed that 32.5 percent of people worldwide drink alcohol. Among women, the proportion of those who drink is 25 percent, whereas for men it is 39 percent.
On average, women drink 0.73 alcoholic beverages per day, whereas men drink 1.7. The study defines a standard alcoholic drink as one that contains 10 grams of "pure ethyl alcohol."