Those who abstain from alcohol likely to die earlier than drinkers, study claims

Drink up with friends for a longer life.

Drink up with friends for a longer life.  (iStock)

Good news for drinkers.

A new study published in the journal “Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research” claims that people who never consume alcohol are more likely to die sooner than those who drink regularly.

The study, led by Charles Holahan, a psychologist at the University of Texas, Austin, examined over 1,800 individuals aged 55 to 65 over a 20 year period. Accounting for diverse variable such as socioeconomic status and exercise habits, the study found that mortality rates were highest for those who never drank, lower for very heavy drinkers—but the lowest for “moderate” drinkers, defined as people who consumed one to three alcoholic beverages a day.

So having a drink once in awhile may really be better for you than saying no altogether. We’ll drink to that.

Just 41 percent of the moderate drinkers died prematurely, compared to nearly 70 percent of abstainers. Even the heavy drinkers fared better, with just 60 percent of the group dying earlier than national averages—despite increased risk of liver disease, several types of cancer and alcohol-induced accidents.

But don’t start raiding the liquor cabinet just yet.

According to Business Insider, one possible explanation for the study’s results may not have to do with the beverage itself. Alcohol can be a “great social lubricant” and “strong social networks are essential for maintaining mental and physical health.” In a word, drinkers tend to have more friends and be more social than non-drinkers and higher levels of depression have actually been noted in those who abstain altogether. That means non-drinkers may be able to extend their livelihood by staying active and going out with friends—even if they just knock back a water or two.

Red wine is still touted for its heart health and overall blood circulation benefits, but the study did not look into the particulars of different types of alcohol consumed by individuals.