Sunday, September 12, 2010

Moderate Alcohol Intake Is Good for You

According to a recent article in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, people with moderate alcohol intake had the lowest mortality rate of all groups compared to light drinkers, heavy drinkers and abstainers. The study involved 1824 Californians between the ages of 55 and 65 at baseline. Light drinking was defined as drinking an average of up to one drink per day. Moderate was defined as drinking an average of one to less than three [or two, if you are math challenged] drinks per day. Heavy was defined as drinking three or more drinks per day. Abstainers were people who had previously used alcohol but had become abstainers sometime before the start of the study. This was a very well-designed observational study with an end point of all-cause mortality after 20 years.

When age and gender were controlled [statistical techniques were used to remove variations among groups] the results showed that compared to moderate drinkers, abstainers had more than twice the risk of dying, heavy drinkers had 70% more risk and light drinkers had 23% more risk. This risk was cumulative over the 20 years that the subjects were followed. Even when all other covariates were controlled, moderate drinking was associated with the lowest mortality rate and abstention with the highest mortality rate.

The authors caution that there are limitations to this study including the following: it was observational and not a true experiment; the drinking data were self-reported [that is, the subjects themselves stated how much they drank]; lifelong abstainers were excluded [the study included only abstainers who had stopped drinking alcohol]; all drinking groups may have experienced episodic heavier drinking, which was not accounted for.

In a Science Daily report, the lead author stressed the word “moderation” and also pointed out that the study should not be interpreted as endorsing the concept that lifelong abstainers should start drinking to live longer.

With science on our side, let’s have cocktails! [See related post on How to Make a Great Vodka Martini.]

1 comment:

Stop Binge Drinking said...

This post was inspired by a long weekend I spent browing your blog! So thanks for what you do, and thanks for your comments here.

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