Irish women rank near top of global drinking league as 'wine o'clock' culture takes toll on health
Stark report warns abstinence is the only healthy option
Irish women now rank seventh in the world for the amount of alcohol they consume daily as the 'wine o'clock' culture takes a major toll on health.
A shocking new global report shows women in this country are downing three drinks a day on average and are ranked higher in the global league table than Irish men.
Many women may believe that "just one glass of wine" is not harmful, without realising that there are as many as three "standard drinks" in a large glass.
The report warns women and men that going teetotal is the only sure way to avoid risking health and increasing their chances of cancer, injury and heart disease.
Unlike those who believe a glass of red has health benefits, this report says there is no safe limit to alcohol consumption.
The stark findings, which are revealed in the Global Burden of Disease study in the 'Lancet' medical journal, debunks previous research suggesting moderate levels of alcohol - around one drink a day for women and two for men - may protect against heart disease.
The authors of the new study insist that any benefits from drinking alcohol are outweighed by the harms.
Men in Ireland are also drinking to hazardous levels, consuming an average of 4.5 alcohol drinks daily - but unlike the women, they do not make it into the global top 10.
A "standard drink" in Ireland is equal to 10g of pure alcohol, which is found in about half a pint of average beer, a 35ml measure of spirits like vodka or whiskey, a small 100ml glass of 12.5pc wine or an 'alcopop'.
However, many modern wine glasses hold up to 250ml, which is equal to 2.5 units, or even more if the wine is strong.
Red wines are often 14.5pc, which can push a single large glass beyond three "standard drinks".
The study, led by Dr Max Griswold from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, showed that in 2016 there were 990 alcohol-related deaths among women in Ireland.
In the same year, alcohol was linked to 1,800 deaths among men.
Dr Griswold warned: "Although the health risks associated with alcohol start off being small with one drink a day, they then rise rapidly as people drink more."
Commenting on the another worrying report card on Ireland's drink culture, Prof Joe Barry of Trinity College, a long-time campaigner against alcohol abuse, said aggressive marketing directed at women, showing attractive images of females having a glass of wine, was contributing to the problem. "Wine can have a strong alcohol content," he warned. And drinking at home means people often pour a large glass.
He called on the Government to pass the Public Health Alcohol Bill, which has already been delayed for more than three years due to strong lobbying by drinks companies.
They were "terrified" of its impact, he said.
It would mean calories are posted on drinks and health warnings would be displayed.
Low-risk weekly guidelines for adults are up to 11 standard drinks in a week for women and 17 for men.
In Ireland, 71pc of men of all ages drink alcohol and 29pc abstain. Among women, some 68pc are drinkers and 32pc are teetotal.
The scientists pooled together data from 592 studies with a total of 28 million participants to assess the global health risks associated with alcohol.