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Heavy Drinkers Live Longer Than Nondrinkers

Posted on Aug 30, 2010
Flickr / sirtrentalot (CC-BY-ND)

A study has found that people who drink a lot of alcohol tend to live longer than people who never touch the stuff. So much for not burning the candle at both ends. But don’t go crashing that frat party just yet: People who drink in moderation, as in one to three drinks a day, live longest of all.


The sample of those who were studied included individuals between ages 55 and 65 who had had any kind of outpatient care in the previous three years. The 1,824 participants were followed for 20 years. One drawback of the sample: a disproportionate number, 63%, were men. Just over 69% of the never-drinkers died during the 20 years, 60% of the heavy drinkers died and only 41% of moderate drinkers died.

These are remarkable statistics. Even though heavy drinking is associated with higher risk for cirrhosis and several types of cancer (particularly cancers in the mouth and esophagus), heavy drinkers are less likely to die than people who have never drunk. One important reason is that alcohol lubricates so many social interactions, and social interactions are vital for maintaining mental and physical health. As I pointed out last year, nondrinkers show greater signs of depression than those who allow themselves to join the party.

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, September 5, 2010 at 11:01 am Link to this comment

My Doctor said I should limit myself to only two two drinks a day,..... so I save them up until the weekend!

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By idendoit, September 3, 2010 at 6:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’ll drink to that…..whatever it was.

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By navajo, September 1, 2010 at 9:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

please, when you drink you don’t remember what happen last night because your brain fry, does that mean anything to you,. be smart don’t waiste your life

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By DFC, September 1, 2010 at 1:25 am Link to this comment

The piece is incomplete. The author of the Time Magazine story fails to mention the source of funding for this study.

Could this be another example of why Time was recently parodied by The Onion as a magazine for children?

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, September 1, 2010 at 1:10 am Link to this comment

I have only one comment: was this study done by morons?  I live in Ukraine which has the dubious distinction of being the most drunk nation on this planet.  The government admits to 20% of the population being alcoholics so you can guess what the real number is.  Men here live to 60 or less, mostly due to the alcohol and cigarettes.  Most are brain dead by 45.  Women, who smoke just as much as the men, live another 10-15 years because they don’t drink as much.  So it’s the alcohol stupid!  As a friend here tells me, alcohol is a toxic solvent.  Drink enough and it kills you.  A single drink per day may relieve some of life’s stress but any more and the stress level rises due to the fighting and agitation of dealing with the drunk’s belligerent attitude.  I would bet the author’s of this study were paid by the alcohol spirits industry.  Have we so soon forgotten the cigarette fiasco and all the experts who out and out lied?  Don’t drink ... you’ll live longer.

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By RobertJames, August 31, 2010 at 11:05 pm Link to this comment

Thats it, I’m reforming and drinking in moderation, more often!

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Peetawonkus's avatar

By Peetawonkus, August 31, 2010 at 2:35 pm Link to this comment

Yes, but they don’t remember most of that life.

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By KenR55, August 31, 2010 at 1:30 pm Link to this comment

This is a most astounding study.  Maybe I’ve lived so long because I have used alcohol in the past, but it seems to me that the fact that the heavy drinkers in my life have already died, from accidents, liver disease and suicide.  And one of the main reasons I gave up drinking was because I felt like if I didn’t stop, I was going to die at a very young age.  So I gave up the booze and now I feel great.

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By gene, August 31, 2010 at 8:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Come on Truthdig! No sources? No citations? No names? Oh, you were hung over.

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By christian96, August 31, 2010 at 8:12 am Link to this comment

The author of this article should be ask to go
elsewhere until their level of IQ is determined.
We are told the study contained only about 1800
subjects of which approx. 63 per cent were men.
Would have been nice if we had been provided more
information about the dynamics of the study.
To say “the validity and reliability of the study
is questionable” is an understatement.  For those
of you who haven’t been exposed to research design
and statistics, “validity” ask if the study measures
what it purports to measure while “reliability” is
concerned with HOW WELL the study measures what it
purports to measure.  The assertions made from and
about the study can have negative influence upon
people reading this article.  The level of intelligence behind this article is significantly
below that expected from truthdig.

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By Leefeller, August 31, 2010 at 6:37 am Link to this comment

I do not know about this study…... my brother Clyde is a heavy beer drinker and he has had a few accidents with his car because the empty beer cans get stuck under the brake pedal, but Clyde says it would have been a lot worse if they were beer bottles.

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By FRTothus, August 31, 2010 at 4:59 am Link to this comment

Life just SEEMS longer when you’re drunk.

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By heavyrunner, August 31, 2010 at 1:38 am Link to this comment

This study dovetails well with the study released earlier this year that showed staring at women’s breasts extended men’s lifespan.

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By oldnjguy, August 30, 2010 at 6:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’d venture that the study did not attempt to measure the percent of tea totallers in the study were current actively members of AA.

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