Physical activity curbs some harmful effects of drinking alcohol



Exercise can help keep medical costs down

Adhering to the recommended physical activity guidelines may offset some of the cancer and all-cause mortality risk associated with drinking alcohol, reports a first-of-its-kind study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Risk of death increased or decreased depending on the level of participants’ physical activity.

Excessive alcohol use leads to deaths and shortens the life of those that die by almost 30 years.

Drinking too much alcohol has immediate effects that increase the risk of many harmful health conditions and are usually as a result of binge drinking.

Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and stroke and several types of cancer – including breast cancer, liver cancer, and colorectal cancer. High alcohol intake has been linked to a heightened risk of death from all causes.

Also, patients with heart disease who met weekly guidelines for moderate to vigorous exercise saved on average more than $2,500 in annual healthcare costs.

Healthy patients, and those with cardiovascular risk factors, who exercised as recommended also had lower average medical costs.

Getting recommended levels of exercise weekly may help keep down annual medical costs both for people with and without cardiovascular disease, according to new research in Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Meanwhile, some research indicates that alcohol consumption and physical activity may be associated with chronic diseases through shared common biological pathways that act in opposite directions. For example, the biological pathways through which cancer formation begins (carcinogenesis) are similar to those by which physical activity may prevent cancer.

Researchers aimed to determine whether physical activity reduces the risk of death from all causes, and from cancer and cardiovascular diseases induced by alcohol intake.

Data examined was from responses to nationally representative health surveys in England and Scotland – each linked to cause-specific mortality – for the years 1994, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004, and 2006.

The survey asked questions on daily, weekly, and monthly alcohol consumption and frequency of physical activity among individuals age 40 or above.

Associate Prof. Emmanuel Stamatakis, of the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia, and team identified six sex-specific categories of alcohol intake from the surveys including “never drunk,” “ex-drinkers,” “occasional drinkers” (no alcohol in the past week) within United Kingdom government guidelines, “hazardous drinking,” and “harmful drinking.”
One-quarter of study participants were classed as inactive

Occasional drinkers were classified as having an intake of up to 14 units for women and 21 units for men, hazardous drinkers up to 35 units for women and 49 units for men, and harmful drinkers more than 35 and 49 units, respectively.

Of the people who responded to the surveys, 36,370 adults between the ages of 40-102 years were included in the study. A total of 14.6 percent (5,307) of survey responders who reported no alcohol intake were made up of lifelong abstainers from the “never drunk” category and former drinkers from the “ex-drinkers” category.

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