A major international study of almost 600,000 people found those drinking more than five 175ml glasses of wine or pints of beer each week were at greater risk of stroke, heart failure and fatal aneurysm.
The report, published in The Lancet, found that a 40-year-old regularly drinking between 200g and 350g of alcohol per week – about 10 to 18 glasses of wine or pints of beer – had a lower life expectancy of around one to two years.
Those exceeding 350g of alcohol every week could shed four to five years off their life.
Although it concluded that alcohol did lower the risk of non-fatal heart attacks, it found that “on balance” there were no health benefits from drinking.
Lead author, Dr Angela Wood 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.”
In 2016 the recommended weekly amount for men was lowered to bring it into line with that of women at 14 units, lower than many other countries.
In the US, for example, the guidelines for men set an upper limit of almost 25 units.
Victoria Taylor, senior dietitian at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), said the study seemed to “broadly reinforce” government guidelines in the UK.
More from UK
UK action in Syria nears after Theresa May wins Cabinet approval
Yulia Skripal abducted by Britain to blame us, says Russia
Human remains found in search for missing fishermen on board sunken boat
Loneliness helpline gets a call a minute over Easter weekend
Who should you back in the Grand National?
Sky News Quiz of the Week: A determined seal, the Champions League and the world’s oldest man
But she added: “This doesn’t mean we should rest on our laurels, many people in the UK regularly drink over what’s recommended.
“We should always remember that alcohol guidelines should act as a limit, not a target and try to drink well below this threshold.”