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Alcohol: A deadly trap or the key to mankind's evolution

Despite being one of the most studied substances known to man, experts still can not agree on the impacts of booze. 

A new global study boldly declared last week that no amount of alcohol is safe ever, despite what other health guidelines may say. 

The study, published in The Lancet, concluded that alcohol use accounts for nearly 10 per cent of deaths among 15 to 49-year-olds and has dire ramifications for future population health. 

The author of the study, Max Griswold, told Wellness Daily that there are confusing messages over alcohol consumption and their study aims to change the conversation. 

"Lots of research has focused on specific outcomes from alcohol use, rather than looking at the harm overall. We hope health organizations can have more certainty in offering their health guidelines and really look at the full picture when it comes to alcohol consumption," he said. 

Mr Griswold said we could potentially see a future where humans do not consume alcohol. He said that even if humans reduced drinking, we would still have deaths. 

"There would still be approximately 120,000 global deaths each year, if everyone was consuming at most 4-5 drinks a week but that number is far less than the 2.8 million deaths happening now."

The study is certainly one of the boldest in declaring no level of alcohol is safe, but it is not the first to warn of dangers. 

A recent study by the University of Bath found that alcohol can impact your brain longer than previously thought. In fact, their research said it could continue to have an effect even after 24 hours.

The World Cancer Research Fund also released its own study that showed heavy alcohol use is linked to more than just liver cancer and can be responsible for cancers of the mouth, pharynx, breast, colon and more. 

Why then do industry bodies like the Australian Department of Health allow for alcohol in a healthy lifestyle?

It could be because of studies like the one from the Harvard School of Public Health that found that red wine can cut your risk of heart disease. Or a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine that found erectile dysfunction was reduced by up to 30 per cent amongst alcohol drinkers.

In fact, one professor has gone further than health benefits and said that alcohol has been the key to mankind's success. 

Professor Robin Dunbar, author of the Functional Benefits of (Modest) Alcohol Consumption, wrote in the Daily Mail that alcohol has a historic importance for mankind. 

"Friendships protect us against outside threats and internal stresses. For humans, this is where a shared bottle of wine plays a powerful role. Alcohol causes us to lose social inhibitions and become over-friendly and triggers brain mechanisms involved in building friendships," he said.

Professor Dunbar told Wellness Daily that the Lancet study only referred to cancer risk and was disingenuous, adding that everything in life has its cost.

"Anything and everything we eat and drink has health risk – too much salt and sugar, both of which are good for you, increases the risk of diabetes and heart attack. Should we stop eating both?" he said. 

It is pointless to live longer anyway if we would just spend our time in isolation, Professor Dunbar said.

"If we gain significantly in social terms — and hence also in our health and happiness — then how much cancer risk are you prepared to accept to allow that?"

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“Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain