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Published:  23 July, 2008

Much to the chagrin of the younger generation, and to the delight of the older, a new study has found that the health benefits of alcohol apply only to middle-aged and elderly people. The study, Alcohol consumption and mortality', published last week in the British Medical Journal, delivered the stark conclusion: Substantially increased risk of all cause mortality can occur even in people drinking lower than recommended limits, and especially among younger people.' Drinkers are more likely than teetotallers to suffer from violent acts, liver complaints, cancer and a host of other problems, claim the authors, statistician Ian R White and his colleagues from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. They also state that for men aged up to 35 and women up to 55 there is no discernible benefit to the heart even from moderate drinking. The good news is that when drinkers do reach old age, moderate drinking can prevent heart disease. If drinkers don't want to increase their risk of early death by more than 5%, the report recommends males should drink no more than one unit a day up to age 34, two units up to age 44, three up to 54, four up to 84 and five units a day thereafter. The recommendations for females are one unit a day up to age 44, two units a day up to 74 and three units a day thereafter.