Drinking over seven pints of beer a week is the point at which alcohol starts to age your DNA, a study found.
People consuming more than the 17-unit threshold – equal to five large glasses of wine – were found to have ‘older’ DNA.
Data from half a million Britons enrolled in the Biobank was used to look for genetic markers showing how much alcohol a person drinks. People with longer telomeres – repetitive DNA sequences that protect chromosomes – are thought to have longer lifespans.
The top 40% of drinkers, who had more than 17 units a week, were found to have telomere shrinkage caused by alcohol, swab tests found. The other 60%, who drank less than 17 units, were genetically undamaged.
The study found a person who drinks 14 pints a week is biologically three years older than one who has four. Study lead Dr Anya Topiwala, from Oxford Population Health, said: “Even reducing drinking could have benefits.”
Alcohol Change UK said it points towards a possible link between booze and Alzheimer’s. The NHS recommends a 14-unit weekly limit.