Benny Andersson: ABBA star on the 'best' health decision he made – 'wouldn’t be here now'

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When the band’s reunion was announced back in 2021, fans from around the globe rejoiced. The new “immersive live experience”, which is being held in a bespoke stadium in London was also largely met with excitement. As part of the tour, the so-called Abbatars, who will be the stars of the experience, will look like the members of the band as they did in the 1970s – the height of their fame. Remaining unperturbed by this process of “de-ageing”, back in 2017, Andersson revealed that he prefers his current situation over the height of his fame, which was plagued by a drinking problem.

Revealing his thoughts on ageing, the composer and musician said: “I am a lucky bloke, definitely. If you were to ask, would you prefer to be 30 again in the middle of the ABBA stuff or now, I would say now, because now is better.

“Getting old is not so bad. The problem is that you are going to die soon. The trick is not to think about that too much… It is the same for all of us; death is very democratic.”

Despite thoughts turning to death, Andersson remains in perfect health. Something he attributes to giving up alcohol.

Reflecting on how he used alcohol during the height of his fame he continued to say: “Stopping drinking was the best decision I’ve ever taken.

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“It was a problem, absolutely. So 15 years ago [now 20 years ago] I thought, I have to give this up. I wouldn’t be here now if I hadn’t.

“It triggered a lot of my friends to quit drinking, too, and they are equally happy. Alcoholism hits you without you knowing it. You’re predestined to it or you’re not.”

The star first realised he was an alcoholic when he started to feel unwell when he wasn’t drinking, the complete opposite of what should happen in a healthy body. “I knew I was in trouble,” he added, after admitting that he would have been at risk of losing everything if he continued drinking.

He said: “If you drink enough for a long enough time, you will lose things.”

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Celebrating 20 years of sobriety this year, when asked in the past if he misses booze, Andersson remained adamant that he didn’t, and was glad to have given up not only alcohol, but smoking too.

“It’s one of the best things I’ve done. Quitting smoking was OK too,” he continued.

“I quit smoking on my 40th birthday. Quitting drinking was a necessity. It was getting in the way of everything, as it does. It takes up all the space, all the time. So it’s really something to get off your shoulders. It feels good.”

Reeling in his good health, Andersson’s decision to give up smoking and alcohol is one that is recommended by numerous health bodies across the globe. In fact, Alcohol and tobacco are among the “top causes of preventable deaths in the United States”.

Both alcohol and smoking use can cause major health risks when used separately, so when used together, individuals are putting themselves in even more potential danger.

Smoking related health risks

The NHS explains that around 78,000 people in the UK die from smoking, with even more living with a smoking-related illness. This is because the habit increases your risk of developing more than 50 serious health conditions.

Around seven out of every 10 cases of lung cancer are caused by smoking, but the act can cause cancer in multiple other parts of the body including the mouth, throat, bladder, liver, kidney and stomach.

As well as cancer, smoking also severely damages your heart and blood circulation, putting individuals at risk of life-threatening conditions such as:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Peripheral vascular disease (damaged blood vessels)
  • Cerebrovascular disease (damaged arteries that supply blood to your brain).

Alcohol related health risks

Similarly to smoking and tobacco use, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can lead to severe health complications, but in the short-term and in the long-term.

In fact, in the short-term, if individuals consume around 10 to 12 units, they will start to reach toxic levels of alcohol which can potentially lead to alcohol poisoning. At the time, an individual’s coordination will be highly impaired, placing them at serious risk of having an accident. The high level of alcohol also has a depressant effect on both your mind and body, which makes you drowsy.

In the long-term, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can damage multiple organs. Organs known to be damaged by long-term alcohol misuse include the brain and nervous system, heart, liver and pancreas.

It can also lead to a weakened immune system, making individuals vulnerable to serious infection. This puts individuals at risk of the following:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Pancreatitis
  • Liver disease
  • Certain cancer
  • Depression
  • Dementia
  • Sexual problems, such as impotence or premature ejaculation
  • Infertility.

For help and assistance on trying to give up smoking visit: Quit smoking – Better Heath. And for support on alcohol related problems visit: https://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/



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