A new study on the effects of alcohol consumption later in life suggests that moderate alcohol consumption can help us live longer.
The Health and Retirement Study collected data from nearly 8,000 adults. The subjects, born between 1931 and 1941, were interviewed twice a year from 1998 to 2014. From there, they were divided into five categories based on their drinking habits: lifetime abstainers; current abstainers; heavy drinkers; moderate drinkers; and occasional drinkers.
Lifetime abstainers consumed less than 12 drinks in their lives, if any. Current abstainers had consumed alcohol in the past, but did not during the study period. Heavy drinkers consumed two drinks per day for females, and three drinks per day for males. (This category also included binge drinkers, defined as those who consumed four or more, or five or more drinks for females and males, respectively.)
Moderate drinkers were those who consumed one to two drinks for females, or one to three drinks for males, on one or more days a week. Occasional drinkers consumed alcohol less than one day a week.
The results showed moderate and occasional drinkers had lower death rates than abstainers. Moderate and occasional women alcohol consumers were less likely to die prematurely than lifetime abstainers, and current abstainers had the highest death rates of all the participants.
However, the study notes, the latter could be a result of abstaining due to declining health in later age. The authors of the report also caution (several times) that more research is needed to determine whether factors outside of the study could have influenced death rates.