Study casts doubt on health benefits of light drinking

A new study is casting doubt on the health benefits of even light alcohol consumption. Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis looked at data from more than 400,000 people and found that consuming one to two drinks four or more times a week increases the risk of premature death by 20 percent.

It gets a little more complicated from there. The study found that drinking one to two drinks four days or more per week lowered your risk for cardiovascular disease but increased your cancer risk. As Dr. Tara Narula told "CBS This Morning," it appears that the increased risk of premature death was actually driven by the higher cancer risk.

Guidance has long suggested that one or two drinks a day is safe. But earlier this year, researchers analyzed data from 28 million people worldwide and found no level of drinking is safe. Conflicting information begs the question: how rigorous is this latest study?

"It was a big study and they did look at sort of light to moderate drinking as opposed to just drinkers versus abstainers. So it's a good study in that respect," Narula said. "I don't think it's going to change the guidelines yet, but really, it adds to this growing body of evidence that suggests we really need to pay attention to the cancer risk."

Another takeaway from the study, according to Narula, is that we should perhaps be taking a more personalized approach when making recommendations about drinking.

"It's this risk-benefit ratio that we need to pay attention to," Narula said. "For someone with a cancer history, it may be abstain because we know that the risk goes up from no drinking, you know, with each drink for cancer. However, (if) you have a strong cardiovascular risk, then maybe it's okay to drink one to two drinks."