Heavy drinkers outlive non-drinkers: study

Moderate drinking is associated with lowest mortality rates

For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, abstaining from alcohol actually increases one’s risk of dying, even when former drinkers (who might have incurred serious health problems when drinking earlier in life) are excluded, Time reports. In the paper, published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, those who abstained had higher rates even than heavy drinkers. Alcohol studies tend to associate moderate drinking (one to three drinks per day) with the lowest mortality rates, and red wine has been shown to have some positive health effects, improving heart health, circulation and sociability. Those who abstain from alcohol tend to be from lower socioeconomic classes, who have more stresses like work and job-care worries. But even after controlling for variables like socioeconomic status, physical activity, social support and others, researchers from the University of Texas at Austin found that, over a 20-year period, mortality rates were highest for those who’d never been drinkers. Over 69 per cent of the abstainers died over those 20 years; 60 per cent of heavy drinkers died; and 41 per cent of moderate drinkers died.Of course, drinking can be dangerous, impairing memory and leading to other mishaps.


Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.