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Bottoms Up.

One of the most contentious issues in the vast literature about alcohol consumption has been the consistent finding that those who don't drink tend to die sooner than those who do. The standard Alcoholics Anonymous explanation for this finding is that many of those who show up as tee-totalers in such research are actually former hard-core drunks who had already incurred health problems associated with drinking.

But a new paper in the journal Alcoholism:Clinical and Experimental Research suggests that for reasons that aren't entirely clear, abstaining from alcohol does tend to shorten life expectancy, even when former problem drinkers are accounted for. The most shocking finding: teetotalers' mortality rates are higher than those of heavy drinkers.

Moderate drinking, which is defined as one to three drinks per day, is associated in alcohol studies with the lowest mortality rates. Moderate alcohol use is thought to improve heart health, circulation and sociability, which can be important because people who are isolated don't have contact with as many family members and friends who can notice and help get treatment for health problems.

But why would abstaining from alcohol lead to a shorter life? The authors of the paper note that those who abstain from alcohol tend to be from lower socioeconomic classes and less able to afford the expense of drinking. And people of lower socioeconomic status have more life stressors -- job and childcare worries that might not only keep them from the bottle but also over long periods lead to stress-related illnesses. (And they don't get the stress-reducing benefits of a drink or two after work.)

But even after controlling for nearly all imaginable variable--existing health problems, socioeconomic statĘs, 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 were not current drinkers, regardless of whether they used to be alcoholics, second highestt for heavy drinkers and lowest for moderated drinkers.

The 1824 participants ranged fro 55 to 65 at the beginning of the study. (One drawback of the sample: a disproportionate number, 3%, were men.) Just over 69% of the teetotalers dies during the 20 years, 60% of the heavy drinkers did, and only 41% of the moderated drinkers.

These are remarkable statistics. Even though heavy drinking is associated with a higher rist for cirrhosis and several types of cancer, particularly of the mouth and esophagus, heavy drinkers are likely to live longer that those who don't drink. And important reason is that for heavy drinkers as well as moderate ones, alcohol lubricates many social interactions, which are vital for maintaining physical and metal health. People who don't drink show greater signs of depression that those who allow themselves to join the party.

The authors of the new paper are careful to note that even though drinking is associated with longer life, it can be dangerous: it can severely impair your memory and lead to nonlethal falls and other painful mishaps. There's also the dependency issue: becoming addicted to alcohol can screw up your marriage and many other aspects of your life.

That said, the new study provides the strongest evidence yet that moderate drinking is not only fun but good for you! Cheers!

"Edited because it is mandatory for a piece this large."

"And the article also supports my avatar! And signature line!"

"And it probably gives an indication of my current state of sobriety, also."

Umm, is it too late to retract that last sentence??? . . . Rats!
Edited by derF on 09/11/2010 03:20
I'll drink to that. Or anything else for that matter.
I need to drink more.
"The world is my country, and do good is my religion." - Thomas Paine
Wow, I really had the wrong idea about the topic of this thread.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
Alcohol really messes with memory I totally agree there.

And I can see how the increased social interaction and relaxing effects of alcohol can make people happier.

And theyre not wrong there, alcohol does ruin the memory.
I forgot what the thread's topic was.
I'm convinced. I'll drink to all of it.
Doubting Thomas
That's why I like to have a drink of wine every so often. And I really don't trust people who don't drink, with one exception: An ex-coworker of mine whose father was a really bad alcoholic.
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