However, it's very easy to cross the risky threshold over which cardiovascular diseases have a field day. About half of the drinkers reported consuming more than the U.K.'s recommended limits.
The report carried by The Lancet says recommended alcohol limits should be lowered to no more than 100g of alcohol, which equates to 10 standard drinks a week for both men and women. So it's as if each unit above guidelines is taking, on average, about 15 minutes of life, about the same as a cigarette. Beer has two to three units depending on the alcohol by volume, which is usually listed on the beer or wine bottle.
Those drinking more than 350g of alcohol per week - equivalent to almost 44 units or 19 pints of beer - had an estimated lower life expectancy at age 40 of four to five years compared to a drinker consuming less than 100g per week. More than 18 drinks a week could shorten someone's lifespan by four to five years, the BBC said.
But she added: "This doesn't mean we should rest on our laurels, many people in the United Kingdom regularly drink over what's recommended".
The worldwide team of researchers analysed data taken from 83 studies in high-income countries and found an increase in all causes of death once more than 100g of alcohol is consumed each week.
Jeremy Pearson, an associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, which part-funded the study, called it "a serious wake-up call for many countries".
For those of us who enjoy drinking in the USA, it does mean we should cut back from the amount outlined in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans from the Centers for Disease Control. Beyond that, between 200g and 350g a week, they can expect to lose one to two years of life.
Professor Naveed Sattar, co-author of the study and an expert in cardiovascular science at Glasgow University, said: "This study provides clear evidence to support lowering the recommended limits of alcohol consumption in many countries around the world".
"We should always remember that alcohol guidelines should act as a limit, not a target and try to drink well below this threshold".
The good news is we don't have to stop drinking.
Lead author Dr Angela Wood, of Cambridge University, said: "The key message of this research for public health is that, if you already drink alcohol, drinking less may help you live longer and lower your risk of several cardiovascular conditions".