Moderate drinkers "are not insulated from harm," said researchers led by Adam Sherk from Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.
"Don't drink or, if you do, drink no more than one drink per day," said Sherk.
Overall, the best advice for drinking is to err on the side of caution.
"When it comes to alcohol use, less is better".
The Canadian government's low-risk drinking guidelines state that women should consume no more than about 10 drinks per week and men no more than 15.
During the research, Sherk and colleagues found that, a significant portion of alcohol-caused death and disability was experienced by those drinking within guidelines.
For example, more than 50 per cent of cancer deaths resulting from alcohol use occurred in people drinking moderately.
Further, 38 per cent of all alcohol-attributable deaths were experienced by people drinking below the weekly limits or among former drinkers.
However, for women, alcohol consumption within the guidelines did offer some protection from death from heart attack, stroke and diabetes.
Nonetheless, "This protective effect did not appear to hold for men who experienced harm at all drinking levels".
According to the researchers, some drinking guidelines, which are published by many countries to help drinkers make informed health decisions, may still be high.