Looking to extend your lifespan? Thinking of hitting the gym, cutting the fat and giving up the booze? You might want to think about that last one.
Non-drinkers die earlier than moderate drinkers, according to research done at the University of Texas at Austin. The researchers’ explanation for these findings might surprise you.
The study covered 1,841 participants age 55-65. Just 41% of moderate drinkers (1-3 drinks per day) died prematurely, while 69% of non-drinkers met an early end. Even heavy drinkers did better than non-drinkers with 60% of two-fisted drinkers dying prematurely. That despite all the health risks associated with excessive drinking – liver disease, cancer, auto accidents, risky behaviors, et cetera.
The psychologists who conducted the study theorize that moderate drinking extends life because alcohol is a social lubricant. It’s an established fact that people live longer, healthier lives when they have a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. Moderate alcohol consumption also appears to have some physical benefits, including improved heart and circulatory health.
Alcoholics Anonymous responded to earlier similar findings by suggesting that some of the non-drinkers in the studies might have been reformed alcoholics who had already severely damaged their bodies and thus died early. But the UT/Austin researchers say that’s not the case in their sample. One shortcoming in this study: the sample was disproportionally male at 63%.
The UT research team cautions that even if moderate drinking has benefits, we should still be mindful of our alcohol use. All sorts of bad things can happen when you’re inebriated or even slightly buzzed. And alcohol dependency can be extremely difficult to beat.
So, with that in mind, let’s raise a toast to the excellent news that something we enjoy may actually be good for us. That’s my favorite kind of health news!