A Non-alcoholic Lifestyle Can Be Life Changing
When you think of popular tv shows and movies, how often do you recall characters in their 20s and 60s in bars or at parties? Portrayals of early adulthood in American culture convey that heavy drinking is a rite of passage and not unusual. But is moderate to heavy drinking without risk if you’re younger? Recent research argues no! The commonly accepted idea that heavier drinking is risk-free when you’re younger is a myth.
A new research study followed 1,537,836 young adults in Korea over four years who did not initially have heart problems. However, after four years, those who were moderate to heavy drinkers had a significantly higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation.
Atrial Fibrillation (AF): What is it?
AF is a condition where a person has a very rapid and irregular heartbeat. It is a well-known risk for those who drink. It is a severe condition because it can produce blood clots that can cause various heart conditions.
Am I at risk?
Based on the research study, participants were grouped by the amount of alcohol they consumed each week. Then, researchers assessed their risk depending on whether they continued to drink at the same level.
Those who drank over 105 g per week of alcohol for four years had a 25% higher risk of developing AF than those in lower categories. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines a “standard drink” in the US as roughly 14 grams of alcohol (a beer, a glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of spirits). Using this number to divide the 105 g a week, the study defines “moderate drinking” as a little more than one drink every day, 7.5 drinks a week.
Investigators defined heavy drinkers as those who drank more than 210 grams of alcohol a week or nearly 2.5 drinks a day. Participants who drank “heavily” for four years had a 47% higher AF risk than those in lower categories.
Because alcohol use is such a common practice in American culture, lifestyles that sustain significant alcohol intake are rarely questioned, especially in younger seasons of life. But these conclusions are not research-based health choices. Today, consider what you assume to be a “normal” alcohol intake. Does it fit a risk category? Consider your habits. Where do they fall in this depiction of heart health (no matter how old you are)?
Especially for those at higher risk of heart disease already, considering your alcohol habits may be lifesaving. Don’t let your age, life stage, or the status quo keep you from rethinking your healthy habits. Know the risks you’re taking.
Want to know more about research on alcohol? Check out our blog for all types of health tips and tricks to get you on the right path.