The research, published in the scientific journal Addiction, involved 21,000 participants in the Moli-sani epidemiological study, followed for over 6 years. During this period, their drinking habits were related to their number of hospital admissions.
"We observed - says Simona Costanzo, first author of the paper, who spent a period of research in this field at Harvard University, thanks to a grant from the Veronesi Foundation - that a heavy consumption of alcohol is associated with a higher probability of hospitalization, especially for cancer and alcohol-related diseases. This confirms the harmful effect of excessive alcohol drinking on the health. On the other hand, those who drink in moderation present a lower risk of hospitalization for all causes and for cardiovascular diseases compared to lifetime abstainers and former drinkers ".
"The data on hospitalizations - comments Licia Iacoviello, Head of the Laboratory of Molecular and Nutritional Epidemiology of I.R.C.C.S. Neuromed and professor of Hygiene and Public Health at the University of Insubria in Varese - is very important in relation to the impact of alcohol on public health. Hospital admissions, in fact, represent not only a serious problem for people, but they have also a strong impact on National health systems. Our study confirms how much excess alcohol can weigh on healthcare facilities, underlining the urgent need of managing the problem, but it also confirms and extends our previous observations according to which moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a reduction in mortality risk, regardless of the type of disease".
"We are absolutely not saying - underlines Ken Mukamal Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School - that any teetotaler should start drinking to improve his/her health. However, this research reaffirms that the effects of alcohol consumption cannot be reduced to a single catchphrase or punchline. This very comprehensive study clearly shows that we need to consider its health effects based upon both dose and disease".