Heavy drinkers outlive non-drinkers: study - Macleans.ca

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.


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Heavy drinkers outlive non-drinkers: study

  1. Wow, it really is only the good die young.

  2. For the love of _____, is there a basic rule of journalism that states that headlines must be misleading?

  3. Just another reason to go to college once you graduate!

  4. As a moderate drinker, I like this news. However, and study whose findings begin with: "For reasons that aren't entirely clear" one ought to be cautious. Until we find the causal mechanisms, it is not clear to me that people should start drinking for health reasons. For instance, maybe the effect is the result of alcohol's role in social networking. In that case, however, there might be other ways of networking effectively.

    • Yes, they don't mention whether they accounted for congenital, genetic, or chronic illnesses. People who know are sick might not want to exacerbate their condition by drinking. It would also be nice to the overall proportions of drinkers/non-drinkers, I'm sure the stats favour drinkers.

      Still, 28% is a huge margin. I can't imagine how alcohol physiologically improves health except reducing stress. If chronic stress is the main factor in chronic health problems, I'm adamant there are better ways to ways to reduce it, especially considering alcohol's negative effects on brain, liver and stomach functions.

    • I'd also like to add that this line is not always true.

      "And people of lower socioeconomic status have more life stressors – job and child-care worries that might not only keep them from the bottle but also cause stress-related illnesses over long periods. (They also don't get the stress-reducing benefits of a drink or two after work.)"

      I've worked in retail for a while, a menial recieving job. I had to physically take a break after work but I didn't feel particularily stressed from the job. I could leave my responsibilities and worries at work. I now work in a middle class office job and I can't do that anymore. Deadlines, reports, etc, they all creep in my household.

      • For other reasons I can't drink anymore and the thought of a single malt was music – then it Cabernet Sauvignon, now milk. Why do they realease this stuff? So far I am outlasting a good many around me.

  5. I am going to live forever! Thanks University!!

  6. We can build a case that subsidized booze is in the national health interest.

    • When IO first read it I thoughtb it said morality rates. I think that's right one way or the other too.

  7. This is all a bunch of bull! I’d like to know how many credible doctors actually approved this statement? The economy in the country is so bad that this is how they are trying to boost it, by sending people to the bars and restaurants? And convincing people to spend more money in liquer and wine stores? This is horrible! 1-3 drinks a day? That’s the definition of alcoholic if you look it up in a dictionary! 2 glasses of wine in a restaurant not only make you tipsy and tired the next day but also will put you over the limit of .08 to drive. Oh, I forgot, that’s even more money for the government, a fine of 5000 is quite worth it all. What’s next? They are going to encourage pregnant women to drink every day too? What happened to our country? If you ask any doctor what social drinking is they will tell you it’s drinking once or twice per week 1-2 drinks at a time, over 2 drinks is considered to be unhealthy, and they will talk to you about slowing down a bit. I guess, next thing you know they are going to tell us that cigarettes are ok to smoke again, that relieves the stress too, right? And people from lower social economic class always tend to develop alcohol and drug problem, that’s been known for decades! What are they talking about? Well, lastly don’t forget the consequences and never ending doctor bills after actually do decide to proceed with this advice and will need a new liver in less than 10 years. But wait, I forgot that’s just going to boost the economy and health industry some more!

    • sounds like you need a drink to calm down.

    • No wonder teetotalers like you don't live as long, they are angry all the time. Mean people suck.

    • I guess the reason that teetotalers don't live as long is that they are angry all the time.

    • wow!!! You do need a drink!

    • You should become a journalist. You're great!

    • Actually, there was a recent study done last year by the International Journal of Epidemiology that found that pregnant women who drink 1-2 alcoholic drinks per week weren't putting their unborn children at risk for developing cognitive deficits any more than those who didn't have any alcohol at all. Soo…

  8. An aperitif a day keeps the doctor away?? As a physcian who drinks maybe one or two beers per month, I am actually starting to believe I need to start having a glass of wine per day …or start critically reading all the literature on this subject. It is confusing. I don't want the calories, but too many studies are supporting moderate use of alcohol. Now, why can't someone look at the benefits of having sex once or twice a day?

    • There's only about 100 calories in a glass of red wine – not that much to add to a daily total if you only have one glass. (Pinot Noir is rumoured to be the lowest calorie variety.)

    • About 25 years ago my Dr. told me to have two onces of brandy an hour before bedtime to help keep my blood thin…I would rather take the brandy vs. pills……

  9. Im with Donna!!! Its all a conspiracy!!

  10. I'm quite surprised by the strength of some of the reactions here.

    Seems pretty simple to me. Those who drink moderately live longer than those who drink too much and those who don't drink. It suggests that there is something behind why people made alcohol in the first place, or perhaps that we've evolved with it in some manner so that our bodies use it for various purposes we don't fully understand.

    "…Alcoholic beverages date back to the very early part of man's history. Many archaeologists believe that wines made from grapes have existed for more than 10,000 years and that drinks such as mead and beer have existed for even longer…"

    • Ever since that first apple started to ferment. That's why Adam took it. He wouldn't take a rotten apple would he?

  11. 1-3 drinks per day..so I can drink 21 vodka and oj’s a week? or i think that is about 2-3 bottles of wine a week? my gosh…that sounds like a lot of booze to me and over time i would argue that the 21 vodkas and 2-3 bottles of wine might turn into 30 vodka’s and 4-5 bottles of wine a week..not sure but i think there is a school of thought (supported medically now for years) called alcoholism..also if i have three drinks today after work, guess what, in Texas, I am driving home under the influence and increase my chances of crashing into someone. but oh yea, fatalities in drunk related accidents usually happen to the driver’s not drunk…i guess that also points towards the lower mortality rate for the drinkers too…here is my thought…if i am drinking three drinks a day, i have a drinking problem. period. and if you are, so do you!

    • I guess the question is whether they meant 1 to 3 drinks each and every day, or whether this was a maximum at any one time that they are talking about. That said, I know plenty of people who have a beer or wine after work or with dinner who I'd never classify as acoholics, so I'd be careful with the labels.

      Drug use is endemic in our society. Lament that if you will, but I think it's natural for people to self medicate to some degree, and that won't change anytime soon. As such I think the most useful thing to do is determine when the practise becomes abusive in some manner and work to limit that, rather than take some kind of unrealistic hardline against drugs in general.

  12. Everything comes with a price. Both good and bad.
    Would a serious drinker also be called an alcoholic.

  13. The scientific method works by isolating some variables to test others. The scientists aren't generally interested in pushing political agendas, but deriving fact first and foremost. In that sense, the other variables you're talking about aren't a part of this study, so it's not reported.

    Ultimately though, drug abuse is drug abuse, and whether that drug of choice is alcohol or something else is secondary to the fact that it is a form of mental illness that should be treated.

  14. i would like to agree to disagree with all of these responses.first i consider myself a moderate drinker notice i said ' i and myself '. for me 4or5 sixteen oz beers consumed over an 8to10 hr period with food and the lawn being cut and talking to the neighbors and crap like that, back and forth to piss keeps me feeling and functioning at a managable level,mind you i'am not driving or hunting or jonzing for another beer either.were there any true drunks or real winos as we know them to be apart of this 'social observation' because for now without any cause and effect thats all it is.

  15. yeah right ! tell me another one!?

  16. When are we going to stop trying to control the lives of eveyone in this country. If I want to have 2 or 3 beers after I get home from my job, why is that a problem? ( My Life ) If I decide to go to a bar after work and knock a few back , I will not drive. Let people make their own decisions , they will pay for them one way or another.

  17. Ok, this is getting interesting. First of all, I’m not angry, I’m trying to give YOU and as many people as will read this perspective on why they should never take this “study” seriously. How do you know if it’s biased or not? How do you know who founded it, government or not? Obviously they are not scientists but just a research group of they say ” unclear why”

    Then everybody is talking about wine but the study never said it was just wine, so if you drink 3 shots of vodka every day, that’s healthy?

    • Choose whatever word you like, angry, agitated, aghast, stunned whatever.

      The point is that everyone, including the researchers, were suprised by this result. It points to something we don't understand and requires more study. No one experiment or statistical analysis is going to give you all the answers, you have to be able to isolate factors and variables in order to learn anything, so it takes numerous studies.

      Facts are facts. It's already stood up to some peer review, so next I expect there will be some attempts to reproduce the results in separate studies, while others seek to understand the mechanism behind it.

      And if you bothered to specifically look up the journal that published the results, you would note that most of their published research comes down hard against drinking, so I expect they were more surprised than most at the results.

      • Facts are facts. It's already stood up to some peer review, so next I expect there will be some attempts to reproduce the results in separate studies, while others seek to understand the mechanism behind it.

        Is this a request for volunteers?

  18. Alcohol is no more addictive than chocolate for most people. Yes some people are predisposed to acoholism, and it's usually apparent in their family line and best avoided, but that's a genetic predisposition that most people don't have.

    To suggest that alcohol is chemically addictive however just isn't supported by the facts. Dependency can result from abuse, but that's no different than any other substance, and is not strictly speaking addiction in the way it is meant by most people. You can be addicted without being dependent on it physically after all.

    Going over the top on this doesn't help anything, and ignores the fact that psychological addictions are based in the psyche and can develop regardless of the substance in question.

    People get addicted to all sorts of things, including sex, food, exercise etc etc.

    So frankly, we should recognize this type of addiction for what it is and treat the cause, rather than pretend that a particular substance is at fault in most cases.

    That type of thinking simply ignores the real underlying causes, and doesn't ultimately help anything.

    • I had a cousin addicted to Weight Watchers. That must mean Weight Watchers is bad, right?

      • No, my point is that it's the addiction that's the problem, not the thing being abused per se.

        Of course when you start talking about highly addictive chemicals, the whole debate changes, but that aside while I personally dislike the gimmicky nature of weight loss firms, I'm sure it does well by some.

  19. Anybody predisposed or not will become physically addicted to alcohol very shortly. Even wine! It’s supposed to be more natural and healthier but cheap wine has just as many additives and preservatives in it as cola. Haven’t anybody here including doctors heard of numerous studies that proved by real scientists and doctors that alcohol consumption causes cancer? You are 20% more likely to get cancer if you drink alcohol than not! If you are a dumbass and going to listen to everything that somebody said than you should but then don’t complain about the consequences in a year or when your license is suspended or you kill someone before you get a chance to get cancer or cirrosis of your liver. Some people don’t know how to use their own judgement and knowledge to survive in this world. That’s unfortunate but if you are looking for an excuse to start drinking every day, maybe you should think twice because that’s alcoholism lingering in your brain already. One last point, who can show us all the data they used in this study? How old were those people who were studied? What diseases did they have? How many? Where are they from? What did they die from? Like somebody else just mentioned here drunks don’t die as easy even in car accidents because their body is more “relaxed” at the time. Who doesn’t drink at all? People who are either sick, or have some religious views like mormans. Those religious people probably don’t believe in doctors either, they ride in carriages still and don’t believe in modern world/ technology. Of course they will die sooner. Just food for thought… People, please stop being so ignorant towards your own life and health.

    • Anybody predisposed or not will become physically addicted to alcohol very shortly.

      Predisposition means that a person is more likely to develop an addiction, not 100% likely. Please don't spread MADD propaganda.

    • When my Grandmother was being treated for stomach cancer her Doctor's encouraged her to have a couple of glasses of red wine every day!

    • How many drinkers with cancer are smokers? I'd bet most are smoking related as they usually go hand n hand.

  20. You really need to get a life, I'm not looking in the mirror every morning to look at my face for results of my previous days activities. Life is so short, why would anybody care what they look like after a night out, drinking or not drinking.

  21. Also doesn’t relax your nervous system, if your smart enough you know it’s a stimulant and you will only feel relaxed for a few hours, you may even pass out, then you’ll wake up real early or middle of the night with you heart palpitating and that is because alcohol is a stimulant. Basically it’s nice to have couple of drinks with dinner or for special occasion but the next day look closely at your face in the mirror and see the dehydrating effects of alcohol, how dry your skin looks and how puffy your eyes and face looks. Yes, everything has a price, especially our pleasures.

    • Gosh! You seem to have quite a lot to say on this subject. Experience perhaps?

    • But you gals get off lucky, you can throw on a little extra make-up hear and there and look gorgeous after a ''good'' night out…For us guy's it won't matter really matter how much we primp and groom, we still are going to look like two pounds of death warmed over……

    • I always drank lots of water and ate before I ever drank alcohol. I never noticed those effects on me but I am only 23 so maybe it's partially because I'm young and I also didn't go overboard with the drinking. I don't drink now because I'm pregnant of course lol. When I drank, it was usually wine. Love the stuff. I eat very healthy and drink lots of water so I didn't get hangovers really. I think people just need to be smart about drinking and listen to their bodies. I'm no Dr. but I think maybe the heart palpitations are just from lack of water. Alcohol is definitely a depressant. I've heard that all my life and I'm pretty sure I learned that in health class in school. That's why people tend to pass out after awhile and speech slows down and words get slurred.

  22. I find the ARTICLES interesting at best. I'm going to drink my daily beers and the occasional brandy. If these articles are correct, I lift my glass, if not, may I rest in peace. I don't think my heart will be palpitating or will I worry of an emanate hangover. I'm not being facetious. Don't worry be happy and everyone around you will be happier as well. <—Just saying!!!

  23. The study is about moderate drinking, how come the title is promoting heavy drinking? The writer must have really been drunk in reading the study and writing this piece.

    • I wouldn't say they're promoting it, but merely pointing out the surprising fact that heavy drinkers live longer than non-drinkers.

      That's pretty darn shocking to me, and I suspect most people.

      That moderate drinkers fair the best is obviously the main message of the piece as a whole though.

      • Coming from Texas, that result is not surprising. How they got the data is a big question mark?

  24. wahoo…. I won't feel half as bad about mixing that drink when I get home from work

  25. hahaha… Like I said why don’t all of you alcohol lovers google how alcohol relates to cancer and cirrhosis of liver and then think again before believing all the bs research in the world? People who were studied were between the ages of 55 and 65. I’m sure they had plentiful of reasons like sicknesses not to drink at all, and they only studied 1800 people. A glass of wine means 3 ounces, not 8 ounces like a regular size glass. And yes Phil, I’m sorry to tell you but you can get physically addicted to alcohol and have dangerous withdrawal symptoms if you try to stop. On top of it the dosage will have to be increases overtime just like with anything if you take it every day. The point is use your brain when you read something and if doesn’t make sence but just sounds good then it’s not true. If they told you the same thing about cigarettes would you believe that? Well,same thing with alcohol!

    • Donna, I understand what you are trying to say and appreciate it. Statistics and "studies" such as these need to be taken with a very large grain of salt. At college we were told to ALWAYS check who was responsible for the study, where is the money coming from? I have parents who are doctors and they are always complaining about the ridiculous reports in the paper of the latest study etc. etc. and then you find out it was funded by a vested interest.

  26. i'll have another Jack and coke please!

  27. I agree that alcohol is a depressant but if you drink to much your blood sugar goes up & when you go to sleep you may wake up because your blood sugar goes down. That's what my Dr told me. Since I am one of those that drank to much most of my life, I quit to save my life. But really 3 drinks a day is a way to make you seem like an alcohol. But my saying is to each his own. BUT DON'T drink & drive.

  28. It's funny they are not saying how many people are dying from drinking. I bet that number is huge.

  29. My only take on this is that drinkers are much more relaxed and view
    the world as 'who cares' thna non-drinkers are, therefore less stress
    and longer lives, unless alcohol related diseases kick in and end their life early.

  30. How many people are dying from other things? Let eliminate everything that people die from so that we can still die. Life is about happiness, if people want to drink it's not illegal. Until then try not to get too frustrated with how other people live.

  31. Don't forget how pretty beer labels are too, they left that out. I'm not trying to make light of your situation, but that's not how science works.

  32. Boy they'll just use anything to keep encouraging drinking..! Come on people, when are we going to wake up? After having 2 alcoholic uncles dye from throat cancer (neither were tobacco users), another uncle who backed over his little precious daughter while she was riding her tricycle on the driveway because he was drunk and couldn't wait to get to happy hour back in 1967, and a cousin who was ran head on in a car accident by a drunk driver and killed I think that alcohol should be discouraged! What about second hand drinking? Besides, STUDIES SHOW THAT GRAPE JUICE LEADS TO LONGER LIFESPAN THAN ALCOHOL! And on top of that you don't have to worry about anything messing your mind up!

  33. Here's a toast to your health!

  34. Probably has more to do with the likleyhood that people who don't drink are people who feel sick when they do drink. This is indicative of a poorly functioning liver which does not bode well in terms of overall longevity.