Good news for fans of America's national pastime. A new study finds that even heavy drinkers have a lower mortality rate than people who are complete teetotalers.
The University of Texas at Austin study, headed by psychologist and national hero Charles Holahan, just released the results under the title Late-Life Alcohol Consumption and 20 Year Mortality. It's good timing, since we recently celebrated the anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition, and it's good news: According to their results, people who never touch booze are statistically more likely to die.
Over the two decades of study, which examined subjects between 55 and 66 years old, 41 percent of moderate drinkers (one to three drinks per day) died prematurely, compared with 69 percent of people who abstained from drinking. Moderate drinking is still better than heavy drinking (three drinks to infinity per day), with 60 percent dying prematurely. That's taking into account all the health complications brought on by alcohol, like cirrhosis and dependency.
While moderate drinking has some benefits to circulation and heart health, the improved mortality rate may be just as much social as it is physiological. People with strong social networks tend to be healthier physically and mentally than those who don't. Drinking can be a social activity and studies have shown that non-drinkers are more prone to depression than people who indulge.
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This news shouldn't give you carte blanche to binge drink for weeks on end, but it does give you a good excuse to have some friends over and make your own vodka infusions.