Myth or fact: Is moderate drinking really linked to longer life?

A new study contradicts previous findings that link moderate alcohol consumption to health benefits and a longer life.

Contrary to the consensus on the streets, drinking alcohol in moderation may not necessarily have any positive impact on your health. Results of a new study from the University of Greifswald in Germany contradict previous studies that suggest moderate alcohol consumption is good for one’s health.

Risky Behaviours

Several studies in the past have demonstrated an increased mortality in people who do not drink alcohol compared with those who consume low to moderate amounts of alcohol. An older study found that men who drink moderate amounts of alcohol have a higher life expectancy than individuals who drink alcohol occasionally or heavily.

But in the study published in the journal PLOS Medicine, the researchers say their findings point instead to lower life expectancy for those who drink alcohol. One of the researchers, Prof Dr. Ulrich John told Medical News Today:

It is a problem […] that medical students and patients are given the advice that it might [improve] health if they drink low to moderate amounts of alcohol.For many years, epidemiological data seemed to reveal that low to moderate alcohol consumers live longer than alcohol abstainers.

Findings and Implications

During the study, Dr. John and his team examined data from a random sample of 4,028 German adults who had taken part in previous interviews.

After studying the data from interviews and questionnaires from the participants, the researchers conclude that their results show that people abstaining from alcohol will not usually have a higher mortality risk than those who consume low to moderate amounts. Dr. John said:

Our findings add one piece to the growing evidence that low to moderate alcohol drinking should not be recommended for health reasons.

Director of the Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in the USA, Dr. George Koob spoke about the possible implications of this study on further recommendations on drinking for health benefits. He spoke to Medical News Today:

There is no reason to recommend drinking alcohol for health benefits. To minimize the risks of harm, we recommend that adults who choose to drink stay within the guidelines for moderate consumption, which recommend up to one drink per day for women or two for men.
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