Daily Drinking is Dangerous Interview with:
“Alcohol” by Jorge Mejía peralta is licensed under CC BY 2.0Sarah Hartz, MD PhD

Assistant Professor
Department of Psychiatry
Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: This study is the first to show that daily drinking is dangerous. Specifically, drinking four or more times weekly, even if it’s only 1-2 drinks at a time, increases risk of mortality. This is in line with recent studies published in the Lancet, but we were able to break down their lowest drinking categories (up to 12.5 drinks weekly in one and up to 5.6 drinks weekly in the other) and found that the frequency is important, not just the average number of drinks per week. It looks like the increased mortality is predominantly due to cancer-related deaths. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Further research would be helpful to determine who is at increased risk due to cancer vs. potentially decreased risk due to heart disease. Is there anything else you would like to add?

 Response: It was very surprising to us that we found the same result in two very different datasets. One is a large national survey that is representative of the population, and the other is a sample of veterans who came to outpatient appointments at the VA. Finding the same thing in both groups makes us think that the result is robust and generalizable.


This research was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health: K08DA032680 and R21 AA024888 to SMH, R01DA036583 and U10AA008401 to LJB, R21AA025689 and R01DA042195 to RAG, R21DA033827 to RCC, and UL1RR024992 to BE. In addition, SMH was funded by grant 2015215 from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. This research is the result of work supported with resources and the use of facilities at the VA Eastern Kansas Healthcare System (Leavenworth, Kansas campus).

Dr. Bierut is listed as an inventor on Issued U.S. Patent 8,080,371, “Markers for Addiction” covering the use of certain SNPs in determining the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of addiction.


Hartz SM, Oehlert M, Horton AC, Grucza R, Fisher SL, Culverhouse RC, Nelson KG, Sumerall SC, Neal C, Pegnier P, Chen G, Williams A, Bhattarai J, Evanoff B, Bierut LJ. Daily drinking is associated with increased mortality. Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, 2018 DOI: 10.1111/acer.13886 

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Last Updated on November 8, 2018 by Marie Benz MD FAAD