New Study Shows That Even Heavy Drinkers Can Outlive Non-Drinkers

By Shawn Dwyer 12/12/13

Researchers found that drinkers had a lower mortality rate than non-drinkers, with moderate drinkers living the longest.

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This guy might outlive a teetotaler...
Photo via Shutterstock

While it might ring contrary to popular belief, a new study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research has found that people who drink either moderately or even heavily have lower mortality rates than people who completely abstain from alcohol.

Conducted by a team led by Charles Holahan, a psychologist at the University of Texas, the researchers followed 1,824 participants over 20 years between the ages of 55 and 65 years old. While the study group was tilted in favor of men 63% to 37% women, researchers found that over the two decades, sixty-nine percent of teetotalers died compared to sixty percent of the participants who were classified as heavy drinkers. Only 41% of moderate drinkers died during the testing period.

The results of the study were controlled for various factors. "A model controlling for former problem drinking status, existing health problems, and key sociodemographic and social-behavioural factors, as well as for age and gender, substantially reduced the mortality effect for abstainers compared to moderate drinkers," said the authors. “Even after taking account of traditional and non-traditional covariates, moderate alcohol consumption continued to show a beneficial effect in predicting mortality risk,” the study concluded.

While the benefits of moderate drinking on one’s health have been widely known, the reasons for nondrinkers to experience higher rates of premature death are less understood.

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Shawn Dwyer is a writer, editor and content producer living in Los Angeles. You can find him on Linkedin.