A single daily glass of wine or beer raises the risk of premature death by a fifth, researchers have said.
Many previous studies have shown that light drinking can have health benefits, but the latest suggestion is that these are outweighed by the dangers.
Sarah Hartz, an assistant professor of psychiatry in the UK, said drinking can help prevent some heart-related problems.
But she added that a daily tipple increased cancer risk and, as a result, mortality rates.
“Consuming one or two drinks about four days a week seemed to protect against cardiovascular disease, but drinking every day eliminated those benefits,” she said.
“With regard to cancer risk, any drinking at all was detrimental.”
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Her analysis evaluated heart disease and cancer risk among more than 400,000 people.
It found those who had one to two drinks four or more times a week within current guidelines were 20 per cent more likely to die prematurely.
The phenomenon was consistent across all age groups.
The findings back recent evidence that being teetotal is the safest option, said Professor Hartz, of Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, whose research is published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.