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IMAGE: This is Sarah M. Hartz, MD, PhD. view more 

Credit: Washington University School of Medicine

Drinking a daily glass of wine for health reasons may not be so healthy after all, suggests a new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Analyzing data from more than 400,000 people ages 18 to 85, the researchers found that consuming one to two drinks four or more times per week — an amount deemed healthy by current guidelines — increases the risk of premature death by 20 percent, compared with drinking three times a week or less. The increased risk of death was consistent across age groups.

The study is published online Oct. 3 in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

“It used to seem like having one or two drinks per day was no big deal, and there even have been some studies suggesting it can improve health,” said first author Sarah M. Hartz, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry. “But now we know that even the lightest daily drinkers have an increased mortality risk.”

Although some earlier studies have linked light drinking to improvements in cardiovascular health, Hartz said the new study shows that

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