Drinkers Live Longer [Study].

Longevity never tasted so good.

A new study from scientists at University of Texas Austin and Sanford University demonstrates that drinkers (both heavy and light) outlive their non-drinking counterparts. The study lasted some 20 years and studied 1,800 individuals.

The results are pretty shocking – and a bit rattling for a non-drinker like me. Even after eliminating recovering alcoholics and after adjusting the data for health, socioeconomic differences, etc., non-drinkers still come in last.

The real secrets to longevity can be found by studying those parts of the world where people live the longest (like Sardinia or Okinawa). Research shows that longevity is the result of four things: Good genes, a healthy, plant-based diet, exercise and low stress.

So how does drinking fit it? We can speculate that drinking helps relieve stress – or that non-drinkers may have no other outlets. Or perhaps drinkers are more likely to form therapeutic social bonds than their non-drinking counterparts. We know that alcohol increases risk for various cancers and liver disease, but apparently those risks are outweighed by the social benefits of drinking.

It’s worth noting that the study was targeted at people in their twilight years. Drinking – especially heavy drinking – may affect younger people differently (i.e., car crashes, suicides, etc.). So it’s important not to jump the gun and try to justify alcoholism and binge drinking. Nonetheless, the research is interesting – so go ahead and tip your pints to longevity. Cheers!

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Comments

  1. do you somewhere have the link to the original research paper?

      • This story just sucks coming from your website. I am trying to give up the bottle (unsuccessfully). I wont lie I am about to go to bed after drinking almost a complete bottle of bourbon . Its not healthy its killing me, if not physically, mentally. Last week was the first time my work noticed. Please don’t glorify it and make it sound like I’m helping myself life longer….

        • Completely understand your battle. People like to glorify our obsessions ( I won’t call them addictions—another story). We all them give up for personal reasons. I personally gave gave up 42 months ago. Though, I believe it’s interesting to see these studies. I don’t think one has to look at it as an excuse for behavior, because they (we) will always find one.

  2. Monsieur Wavey – also remember correlation does not prove a causal relationship – while there may be a relationship between drinking and life expectancy, one does not cause the other.

    Also notable when did longevity become the motivation for living?

  3. Awesome! I feel better about my last night at the pub now. :-)

    This might actually say more about non-drinkers (or a significant number of non-drinkers) than it does about drinkers. It’s like talking about meat-eaters — that’s a very broad category of people who will ultimately have not much else in common other than eating meat, compared with vegetarians, who likely fall into a much smaller number of camps with a much more common set of motivations.

    Basically, I’m agreeing with the idea that the longevity is not so much alcohol related as stress related, but I wonder if by choosing to analyse nondrinkers as a big category, the study has discovered an effect of some related thing that they have in common, and the shorter lifespan is not caused by the abstinence from alcohol use but by a common cause of both the abstinence and the short lifespan.

    Non-drinkers are distinguished by abstaining from drinking (duh) and there are not a whole lot of reasons for doing that. Davey, I assume you cut back or abstain because you’re concerned about the empty calorie issue, which is a valid concern, but my impression would be that most tea-totalers would be abstaining for religious reasons.

    What else do religious people have in common? Probably a lot of self-imposed pressure to follow a lot of rules that, if we’re talking about Christians, they are told ultimately they will fail at due to original sin. They’re often concerned about the ongoing judgement of God, and being found worthy at the impending Judgement Day, and hey, that’s a lot of pressure! I could use a beer just thinking about that one.

    So there, maybe the shorter lifespan is caused by the self-criticality and stress experienced by the sort of religious person who refuses to drink.

    • I don’t drink because my grandfather asked me to promise him that I would abstain from it. His father was an alcoholic and abused him – he always asks me about it, so it’s something very important to him.

  4. Interesting! And a Texan school helped in the research? As a light to moderate drinker, I can understand how alcohol may alieviate stress but most problems linger afterwards.
    Going out to a bar or club, I’ve found, do wonders for an unhappy mood. However, the second to last time I was at a bar, it was just kinda tiring and a bit of a bore. It was at my favorite bar with my favorite group of friends. Friday happy hour but nothing seemed happy about it. It was just not a good day to be out I suppose. (Maybe cos I couldn’t get drunk.)
    Anyway. I find just hanging out with a good mix of friends is better than plastering oneself to the point of blacking out. Buzzing with friends is always just a perk, not the cure for a funky mood.
    Speaking of funky…
    Davey, that picture is just so unattractive. I can even smell that lingering stench of post binge drinking. Rancid. Just RANCID!

  5. They were looking at people who’d already lived to a relatively late age. Perhaps the people who were vulnerable to the effects of alcohol (or to alcoholism) hadn’t made it that far :-(

    The report also mentions that “former problem drinkers with existing health problems” would be included among the non-drinking group. So if someone had long-term health problems caused or aggravated by over-drinking, but they’d quit by the time they entered the study, they’d be classed as an abstainer and not as a drinker.

  6. I’ll drink to that!

  7. david price says:

    post hoc, ergo propter hoc…. hmm..
    maybe it just seems like they live longer…. idk…
    everything in moderation is a good rule of thumb…

    – cheers… david

  8. Ban Yan’s reply was interesting, so I thank him for that. He wondered why some people would choose not to drink. He listed religious reasons and diet-related reasons, but he overlooked the simplest and main reason I don’t drink: I don’t like the taste. Am I the only one?

    I also don’t like tomatoes. I only mention this because there is an inconsistency in the social opportunities granted to me as a non-drinking tomato hater. Friends frequently invite me to lunch where tomatoes are freely served. But friends almost never invite me to happy hour where alcohol is served. Why would I be treated so differently in these two contexts? I like my friends no less if they drink alcohol or eat tomatoes…

    • I lead a pretty non-stressful life because I don’t let things bother me negatively, and I enjoy life and don’t need the confidence boost from alcohol. So I don’t see any gain for me by starting to drink it now.

      However, I disagree with your tomato and drink hating being the same. I don’t like fish, and if served it would leave it because of this, but if I was served say christmas pudding -soaked in alcohol- I would be quite offended by it and the assumption that I drink.

  9. Joshiepooh says:

    hmmm…… never heard that one before. did you know married men live shorter lives, and if you sleep for more than 8-9 hours a night then you die younger. strange isnt it.

  10. I think the key point that needs to be emphasized is everything in moderation or else it becomes too much;

    – exercise with rest days (in moderation), keeping yourself hydrated especially when working out to flush toxins, and to help your performance during a workout. This is to prevent being fatigued too early.

    – reducing stress by practicing yoga or walking, or walking your pet to prevent overtiring your mind on a problem that you can’t solve immediately. (And it helps reduce the pet’s stress when you get home.)

    – practicing to be forgiving, by not holding yourself to blame for things that are really not your fault. This also means getting away from sensationalistic news stories from big networks to keep you from exercising and watching television because “…that’s the world you live in.” It’s not, it’s the world as a news story, and that doesn’t include the important part of the story, you.

    – practicing good ethics, it helps PREVENT stress.

    – see your doctor regularly, the doctor is best seen when nothing is wrong with you, that’s a success story that a doctor likes.

    – drinking responsibly, have a designated driver (the sober guy for the night), or a place to sleep it off (at least eight hours, or you’re usually still drunk after drinking heavily).

    – sleeping regularly (being so drunk that you pass out doesn’t count). If you can’t, see your doctor.

    Peace out!

  11. this makes little sense. i thought drinking damages your organs. how the heck is this a good thing? hello. liver failure anyone?

  12. Using only one study is little proof of something. Remember that whole mess about how vaccines caused autism? Well that was just some person paying people to fudge up results. If you could find this consistently it would make sense.

    Besides, often times things you think are the cause are often the effect, longer living people may prefer to drink for some reason.

    Similar to your entry, “myth, removing the skin” this isn’t really accurately presented. Chicken skin in that wasn’t proven to be particularly healthy. Similarly alcohol can lead to liver failure and abuse.

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  1. […] Light to moderate drinking has been associated with some health benefits – and has even been linked to longevity. Heavy drinking, on the other hand, is extremely dangerous. According to the National Institute on […]

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