Heavy Drinkers Outlive Nondrinkers

imagessix-20pack-20tattoo-smallTIME reports on a finding that contradicts what we’ve been taught our entire lives regarding the perils of alcoholism: people who are heavy drinkers live longer than those who have always been nondrinkers. (And that’s after controlling for nearly all the variables one could think up.) Do teetotalers die early due to missing out on the stress release that alcohol provides so well?

A new paper in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research suggests that — for reasons that aren’t entirely clear — abstaining from alcohol does actually tend to increase one’s risk of dying even when you exclude former drinkers. The most shocking part? Abstainers’ mortality rates are higher than those of heavy drinkers.

Even after controlling for nearly all imaginable variables — socioeconomic status, 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 had never been drinkers, second-highest for heavy drinkers and lowest for moderate drinkers.

10 Comments on "Heavy Drinkers Outlive Nondrinkers"

  1. Never have I been so thankful for a lifetime of moderate, single malt, scotch-based bliss. The Newcastle Brown probably helped too.

  2. Vox Penii | Aug 31, 2010 at 1:40 pm |

    Drunks live longer than abstainers? What's next?

    Fat people live longer than slim people! AIDS is good for you! Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes. The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!

  3. Hadrian999 | Aug 31, 2010 at 3:16 pm |

    nature's way of taking pity on sober people

  4. tonyviner | Aug 31, 2010 at 4:17 pm |

    Sooo, I should start drinking???

  5. emperorreagan | Sep 1, 2010 at 1:54 pm |

    Archeologists say humans have been drinking pretty much since the dawn of civilization.

    I don’t find it at all surprising that we would find that there are moderate health benefits to consuming something we’ve been consuming for around 10,000 years.

  6. Anonymous | Sep 1, 2010 at 2:08 pm |

    Red wine contains B17

  7. Anonymous | Sep 1, 2010 at 7:22 pm |

    “My doctor tells me I should start slowing it down – but there are more old drunks than there are old doctors so let’s all have another round.”
    -Willie Nelson

    • Especially because “There’s a lot of good people in town / Who gotta hear me holler / See me spend my dollar / And I wouldn’t think of letting em down.”

      Who can argue against Willie Nelson?

  8. Texas. Drinkers shoot abstainers. Hence.

  9. Yeah! This makes me want a drink…I mean another drink.

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