They discovered that it causes stress and inflammation to telomeres – the ends of DNA strands that stop them unravelling much like the ends of shoelaces.
As people age, telomere length shortens progressively and eventually they are so damaged the cell dies.
The study found alcohol accelerates this process.
Since telomere shortening is thought to also increase cancer risk, the researchers speculated that those with shorter telomeres due to heavy alcohol consumption would have an increased risk of cancer.
Andrea Baccarelli, the lead researcher at the University of Milan in Italy, said: "Heavy alcohol users tend to look haggard, and it is commonly thought heavy drinking leads to premature ageing and earlier onset of diseases of ageing."
The researchers looked at more than 250 volunteers some of whom drank more than four alcoholic drinks per day.
They were similar in age and other factors that might affect telomere length, such as diet, physical exercise, work-related stress and environmental exposures.
Results showed that telomere length was dramatically shortened in those who consumed heavy amounts of alcohol. In some telomere length was nearly half as long as telomere length in the non-abusers.
Results of the study were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research's annual conference.
Its all enough to turn you to drink isn't it!