Want to Live Longer? Toss Back a Few Cocktails
Alcohol in moderation may extend
life span, researchers find
Drinking a moderate amount of
alcohol — up to four drinks per day
in men and two drinks per day in
women — reduces the risk of death
from any cause by roughly 18
percent, researchers have found.
Moderate drinking may lengthen
your life, while too much may
shorten it, researchers from Italy
report. Their conclusion is based on
pooled data from 34 large studies
involving more than 1 million people
and 94,000 deaths.
According to the data, drinking a moderate amount of alcohol — up to four drinks per
day in men and two drinks per day in women — reduces the risk of death from any
cause by roughly 18 percent, the team reports in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
However, “things radically change” when consumption goes beyond these levels,
study leader Dr. Augusto Di Castelnuovo, from Catholic University of Campobasso,
said in a statement.
Men who have more than four drinks per day and women who have more than two
drinks per day not only lose the protection that alcohol affords, but they increase
their risk of death, the data indicate.
The reason why men are protected at up to four drinks per day, while women lose the
protection after two glasses has to do with how men and women metabolize alcohol,
researchers say. It’s been shown that when men and women who drink the same
amount of alcohol, women experience higher blood alcohol levels than men.
Therefore, women who consume more than two glasses of alcohol per day may be at
increased risk for diseases of the liver and certain types of cancer.
“Our findings, while confirming the hazards of excess drinking, indicate potential
windows of alcohol intake that may confer a net beneficial effect of moderate
drinking, at least in terms of survival,” the Italian team concludes.
“Heavy drinkers should be urged to cut their consumption, but people who already
regularly consume low to moderate amounts of alcohol should be encouraged to
continue,” they add.
The manner in which alcohol is consumed also appears to be important, the
researchers report. “Little amounts, preferably during meals, this appears to be the
right way (to drink alcohol),” said Dr. Giovanni de Gaetano of Catholic University,
another author on the study. “This is another feature of the Mediterranean diet,
where alcohol, wine above all, is the ideal partner of a dinner or lunch, but that’s all:
the rest of the day must be absolutely alcohol-free.”
“The message carried by scientific studies like ours is simple,” Dr. de Gaetano
continued. “Alcohol can be a respectful guest on our table, but it is good just when it
goes with a healthy lifestyle, where moderation leads us toward a consumption
inspired by quality not by quantity.”
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