New study finds that physical activity may offset some of alcohol’s lethal harms
An international research collaboration, led by University of Sydney and a Greek researcher, has found that exercising at even basic recommended weekly physical activity levels (at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity) may offset some of the harmful effects of drinking alcohol.
Published today in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, this first-of-its-kind study found that for alcohol drinkers, physical activity may decrease the risks of dying both from cancer and from “all-cause mortality” that is, deaths from any cause.
The researchers drew on responses from eight nationally representative baseline health surveys carried out in the United Kingdom between 1994 and 2006 which looked at the impact of physical activity and alcohol consumption on health outcomes.
“Our research suggests that physical activity has substantial health benefits even in the presence of potentially unhealthy behaviours such as drinking alcohol,” said senior author Associate Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis, from the Charles Perkins Centre and Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney.
“Among physically inactive people, we saw that the risk for cancer and all-cause mortality was higher even at relatively low levels of drinking.
“We also noticed a dose-response relationship between drinking alcohol and cancer deaths, that is the risk of cancer deaths increased as alcohol consumption increased. But this was not the case among physically active people.”
Emmanuel is an Associate Professor of Exercise, Health and Physical Activity Sport Sciences in the School of Public Health and the Charles Perkins Centre. He studied Exercise and Sport Sciences at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece) and between 1997 and 2002 he completed an MSc on Exercise and Health and a PhD on Physical Activity and Childhood Obesity at University of Bristol (UK).