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Moderate Weekly Exercise May Negate Certain Negative Effects of Alcohol—Like Death from Cancer

Another reason to sweat more and be mindful of how much you drink.

Beers and burpees might not seem like a stellar pair, but new research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine will have you working off your alcohol like your life depends on it ('cus it kind of does). Getting the recommended amount of weekly exercise (just 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity) seems to completely negate the heightened risk of cancer death related to alcohol consumption, according to researchers.

Yeah, cheers to that.

To come to these uplifting findings, researchers garnered data from eight heath surveys conducted in England and Scotland, overall including nearly 36,400 people, all of which were 40 years old or older. The researchers divided participants into three groups: those who are not very active, those who do a moderate amount of exercise, and those who do the most amount of exercise. 

Then, researchers delved into alcohol use, grouping participants further into clusters of people who never get drunk, ex-drinkers, occasional drinkers, drinkers who stay within guidelines (less than 14 drinks per week for women and less than 21 drinks for men), hazardous (14–35 drinks per week for women and 21–49 drinks per week for men, and harmful (greater than 35 drinks for women and greater than 49 for men).

During a follow-up period of nearly 10 years, researchers noted 5,735 deaths. Compared with life-long abstinence from alcohol, people who drank at hazardous levels experienced a heightened risk of death from all causes. And any additional drinks you tack on each week above the guidelines, the greater your risk of death from cancer becomes.

The turning point and our beacon of hope? Exercise. 

Researchers factored in the benefits of working out—looking at the recommended weekly amount for adults, which is less than three hours of moderate aerobic activity, like brisk walking and swimming, per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

The correlation between alcohol intake and mortality from all causes diminished greatly and mortality from cancer was nearly wiped away completely for men and women who met the recommended amount of exercise. However, working out wasn’t able to negate the death risk for those in the “harmful” range.

However, researchers say that there are certain limitations to the study—for example, diet and medication usage weren't noted. Plus, they don't address other effects of alcohol like weight gain and whether it can impede exercise performance and recovery. So, don't use this news as your excuse to down a few extra beers a day. But, it's good news that if you're a moderate social drinker and were concerned about the health risks associated with booze, you can toast to your health next time you hit happy hour. Just stick to these manly cocktails that are good for you and these 6 surprisingly healthy beers. Whatever you do, avoid the most unhealthy drink orders at the bar

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