Friday, December 18, 2015

If You Don't Drink, Be Prepared to Die Young

Friend and SUBS colleague Dr Derek Ong introduced me to this research. I am a drinker and the topic got me interested. And even better, I can relate to this. Best is I know this is true.
Sure, alcohol misuse has been linked to a range of multiple conditions (Room, et al, 2005). Yet growing epidemiological evidence indicates that moderate alcohol consumption is associated with reduced total mortality.
Although moderate alcohol consumption is defined differently across studies, 1 to 3 drinks per day generally encompasses the range within which health benefits have been observed among middle-aged and older adults (Ferreira and Weems, 2008).
However, many investigators have expressed concern that the presumed salutary effect of moderate drinking may be overestimated owing to confounding factors associated with alcohol abstention.
And so, psychologist Charles Holahan and his fellow researchers at the University of Texas at Austin conducted a tightly controlled study, which looked at individuals between ages 55 and 65, and spanning a 20-year period. It found that mortality rates were highest for those who had never had a sip, lower for heavy drinkers, and lowest for moderate drinkers who enjoyed one to three drinks per day.
[You may read the full study in Charles Holahan, Kathleen Schutte, Penny Brennan, et al, (2010),  Alcoholoism: Clinical and Experimental Research, November, Vol. 34, No.11].
Of the 1,824 study participants, only 41 percent of the moderate drinkers died prematurely compared to a whopping 69 percent of the non-drinkers. Meanwhile, the heavy drinkers fared better than those who abstained, with a 60 percent mortality rate.
Despite the increased risks for cirrhosis and some types of cancer, not to mention dependency, accidents, and poor judgment associated with heavy drinking, those who imbibe are less likely to die than people who stay dry.
A possible explanation for this is that alcohol can be a great social lubricant, and strong social networks are essential for maintaining mental and physical health. Non-drinkers have been shown to demonstrate greater signs of depression than their carousing counterparts, and in addition to the potential heart health and circulation benefits of moderate drinking (especially red wine), it also increases sociability.
Simply put, regular drinkers are less likely to die prematurely than people who have never indulged in alcohol. Therefore, I urge you not to be a teetotaler because you will have a much shorter life than consistent, moderate drinking.
I will surely drink to that!
And this is also true:

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