Sipping two or three glasses of wine, beer or cocktails per day helped older adults live longer than teetotalers in a study that confirmed the health benefits of moderate drinking.
A study of 1,824 adults aged 55 to 65 found that moderate and heavy drinkers were less likely to die than abstainers over a 20-year span, according to researchers at the University of Texas in Austin and Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Moderate drinkers were defined as those who have one to fewer than three drinks daily, with heavy drinkers having three or more alcoholic beverages a day, according to the study in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
The results refuted a common criticism of previous similar findings about drinking and longevity that results were skewed because researchers included former problem drinkers with poor health in the abstainers' group. The Texas and Stanford authors found that, even after excluding results from past problem drinkers and people with poor health status such as obesity, moderate drinkers still lived longer than nondrinkers, they said.
"Importantly, any health-protective effects of alcohol appear to be limited to regular moderate drinking," wrote the study authors, led by Charles Holahan, a psychology professor at the University of Texas. "Heavy episodic drinking - even when average consumption remains moderate - is associated with increased cardiovascular risk."