The research, published in The Lancet journal, found that drinking even a small shot glass of beer a day could be damaging to men under the age of 40.
Similarly, a safe daily limit of alcohol for women under the age of 39 is equivalent to two tablespoons’ worth of wine or 100ml of beer.
It comes as analysis of 204 countries across the world estimated that around 1.34bn people consumed harmful amounts of alcohol in 2020.
In contrast, those over the age of 40 may benefit from consuming a drink or two as small amounts of alcohol could help ward off heart disease, stroke and diabetes, the study suggests.
Given that young people face higher health risks from alcohol consumption than older people, experts have called for stronger guidance on how alcohol affects people by age.
The study found that 59 per cent of people who consume harmful amounts of alcohol are aged between 15 and 39, and three-quarters of excessive drinkers are men.
Experts have not established any health benefit of drinking alcohol for people aged 39 or younger.
Senior author Dr Emmanuela Gakidou, professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine in the US, commented: “Our message is simple: young people should not drink, but older people may benefit from drinking small amounts.
“While it may not be realistic to think young adults will abstain from drinking, we do think it’s important to communicate the latest evidence so that everyone can make informed decisions about their health.”
Experts used data from The Lancet’s 2020 Global Burden of Disease to analyse the risk of alcohol consumption on 22 health outcomes, including injuries, cardiovascular diseases, and cancers.
Using this information, they were able to estimate how much alcohol a person can safely consume before it creates a risk to their health.
Researchers found that the level of alcohol that can be consumed without increasing health risks rises throughout a lifetime.
“This is driven by differences in the major causes of death and disease burden at different ages,” the study said.
“Any level of drinking leads to a higher probability of injuries, while small amounts of alcohol decrease the risk of some conditions prevalent in older ages, such as ischaemic heart disease and diabetes.”
For young men, the recommended daily amount of alcohol before “risking health loss” was about 38ml of beer or 10 ml of wine.
In young women, this was around 100ml of beer or two tablespoons of wine.
In those aged between 40 and 64, safe alcohol consumption levels ranged from around 50ml-200ml of wine or 187ml-750ml of beer.