Drink Beer: Live Longer

Don’t get too excited about the following because I can assure you that in the next few weeks or months there will be a study released that tells us all the opposite it true, but right now, hot off the press the journal “Alcoholism—Clinical and Experimental Research” has found that abstaining from alcohol increases the risk of dying (here). What they are going to try and work out now is “why”.

1,824 participants from various socio-economic groups took part in the study over a 20 year period. Just over 69% of the never-drinkers died during the 20 years, 60% of the heavy drinkers died and only 41% of moderate drinkers died.

These are remarkable statistics. Even though heavy drinking is associated with higher risk for cirrhosis and several types of cancer (particularly cancers in the mouth and esophagus), heavy drinkers are less likely to die than people who have never drunk.

The following narrative accompanied the article:

But why would abstaining from alcohol lead to a shorter life? It’s true that those who abstain from alcohol tend to be from lower socio-economic classes, since drinking can be expensive. 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.)

But 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.

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And prior to this we found out how coffee drinking extends our lives by keeping our arteries and veins supple, and cleaning off cholesterol build up.

I drink coffee and beer. How frigging long am I going to live?

I’m off to get me a life-extending beer.