Do Heavy Drinkers Really Outlive Teetotalers?

For every study, there is usually another one that says the exact opposite. But a new paper in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research seems to indicate the unthinkable: Heavy drinkers outlive non-drinkers.

As reported by Time:

“Even after controlling for nearly all imaginable variables — socioeconomic status, level of physical activity, number of close friends, quality of social support and so on — the researchers (a six-member team led by psychologist Charles Holahan of the University of Texas at Austin) found that over a 20-year period, mortality rates were highest for those who had never been drinkers, second-highest for heavy drinkers and lowest for moderate drinkers.”

Say what? Sure, moderate drinking—for women that means one to three drinks on any one day, and no more than 7 a week—has long been heralded as a boon to health. Especially, though not exclusively, when that drink is red wine. Until now, though, conventional wisdom argued that once you tipped out of the moderate zone, all benefits would reverse on you. In fact, we asserted as much in the book—and while we may need to revisit aspects of that theory due to new evidence, we’re not going to be changing our whole tune. When it comes to beauty, excessive alcohol consumption will do you no favors, longer life or not.

Nonetheless, this new data makes for some interesting musings about what really consummates good health, no? The verdict is far from in, but could the stress-reducing benefits of alcohol be at play? Is relentless sobriety responsible for some uknown health risk? Fun to ponder, hard to prove. Got any good theories?

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4 Responses to “Do Heavy Drinkers Really Outlive Teetotalers?”
  1. lalaland says:

    Maybe it’s not about alcohol, but rather about people who can moderate in all areas of their life. Going to the extreme, even the healthy extreme, says something about their disposition — a little tightly wound.

  2. LC Teh says:

    Everything should be done in moderation. That includes drinking. And…if you can’t be good, be careful…

  3. SilkySmooth105 says:

    There’s more than one variable that will affect lifespan than drinkers vs. non drinkers. Caloric consumption plays a huge role in determining lifespan of all specials.

    The next study they should try to keep diets in both groups consistent.

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