Latest scientific news 01 October 2019

Can moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages contribute to longevity?

In this Health and Retirement Study (HRS), moderate drinkers of middle and older ages had a lower mortality rate compared to lifetime abstainers.

The HRS study is among the largest and well-designed studies of older adults (> 56 years of age) anywhere in the world. The 8000 participants were followed over a period of 15 years to assess the relationship between the consumption of alcoholic beverages and mortality risk. Their drinking habits, chronic health conditions and ability to manage daily life activities was not only assessed once but every two years to detect possible changes. Those individuals who consumed alcoholic beverages moderately (*), had lower mortality rates (26% lower in men and 18% lower in women) than lifetime abstainers as well as sick quitters. A strength of this study was examining the influence of other lifestyle factors such smoking. The results showed that smoking neutralized the positive effects of moderate drinking. This proves once again, how important it is to consider ALL lifestyle factors. It is thus not surprising that the lowest mortality risk or the highest longevity was found among non-smokers.

Keyes, KM et al.: Alcohol Consumption in Later Life and Mortality in the United States: Results from 9 Waves of the Health and Retirement Study. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 2019;43:1734-1746

For more information about this article, read the scientific abstract here.