Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Boy, I'll Drink To That...!


Most of us have suspected this for a long time!

Heck, even Willie Nelson had a line in one of his songs that said "there's more old drunks than there are old doctors"! I never knew that there was any proof until I read this story in CNN!

Why Do Heavy Drinkers Outlive Nondrinkers?
By John Cloud Monday, Aug. 30, 2010


One of the most contentious issues in the vast literature about alcohol consumption has been the consistent finding that those who don't drink actually tend to die sooner than those who do. The standard Alcoholics Anonymous explanation for this finding is that many of those who show up as abstainers in such research are actually former hard-core drunks who had already incurred health problems associated with drinking.

But a new paper in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research suggests that — for reasons that aren't entirely clear — abstaining from alcohol does actually tend to increase one's risk of dying even when you exclude former drinkers. The most shocking part? Abstainers' mortality rates are higher than those of heavy drinkers.
(See pictures of booze under a microscope.)

Moderate drinking, which is defined as one to three drinks per day, is associated with the lowest mortality rates in alcohol studies. Moderate alcohol use (especially when the beverage of choice is red wine) is thought to improve heart health, circulation and sociability, which can be important because people who are isolated don't have as many family members and friends who can notice and help treat health problems.

But why would abstaining from alcohol lead to a shorter life? It's true that those who abstain from alcohol tend to be from lower socioeconomic classes, since drinking can be expensive. And people of lower socioeconomic status have more life stressors — job and child-care worries that might not only keep them from the bottle but also cause stress-related illnesses over long periods. (They also don't get the stress-reducing benefits of a drink or two after work.)

But even after controlling for nearly all imaginable variables — socioeconomic status, level of physical activity, number of close friends, quality of social support and so on — the researchers (a six-member team led by psychologist Charles Holahan of the University of Texas at Austin) found that over a 20-year period, mortality rates were highest for those who had never been drinkers, second-highest for heavy drinkers and lowest for moderate drinkers.

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.

The authors of the new paper are careful to note that even if drinking is associated with longer life, it can be dangerous: it can impair your memory severely and it can lead to nonlethal falls and other mishaps (like, say, cheating on your spouse in a drunken haze) that can screw up your life. There's also the dependency issue: if you become addicted to alcohol, you may spend a long time trying to get off the bottle.
(Comment on this story.)

That said, the new study provides the strongest evidence yet that moderate drinking is not only fun but good for you. So make mine a double.

Now that we have that all settled, let's get some fresh coffee and sit in the kitchen for a bit, OK? Raining outside, so it's too wet to sit on the patio!

23 comments:

Tatersmama said...

Hmmm... interesting stuff, Mr.Jim!
I guess I've got some catching up to do, so would you mind pouring a little Jack in my coffee? ;)

2 Tramps said...

Yes, quite interesting data. Ditto on adding a shot to my cup, too, please H.J. - its never too early to try to start the day off on a good note!

edifice rex said...

That's very interesting; I have never read such a study. Guess that bit of whiskey every so often is okay!

Ben in Texas said...

I don't drink Hard stuff any more, and lost my taste for beer, BUT my Doc told me a long time ago to have a glass of wine or two every evening. THAT I can do.

Argentum Vulgaris said...

My father is an example of those findings. Never drank, never smoked, first heart trouble @60, both my grandfathers drank and smoked from an early age and they died of natural causes both in their 90s.

AV

Baby Sis said...

Bubba -

I'll join in the coffee this morning, but make my addition a shot of Bailey's, please. Takes care of the daily discussion issue and the creamer at the same time! MMMM-MMMM. Sounds better all the time, and I'm stuck at work! Guess it's traight octane with a little of that powdered stuff for me!

Big hugs -

JoJo said...

Good Morning My Special One
Well since I can't drink cause I get drunk on one I hope the little glass of wine each night at happy hour will work.:) I sure like baby sis' idea of her addition. I remember doing that yes it is yummy :)

HermitJim said...

Hey Tatersmama...
One coffee and Jack coming up! A little taste never hurt anyone, I reckon!

Besides, we're all friends here, so if one of us acts a little silly...what's the harm?

Thanks, my friend, for coming by today!


Hey 2Tramps...
Sometimes we need a little boost to start the day off right.

Strong coffee with a shot may be just the thing!

Thanks for coming by today!


Hey ER...
No need in wasting a good study, right? Might as well take advantage of the "reported facts" and have a nice little shot!

Any excuse is better than none!

Thanks, girl, for dropping in today!


Hey Ben...
If I'm not mistaken, even the good book says "take a little wine for thy stomach's sake"!

That's good enough for me!

Have a good day, buddy! And thanks for coming by for a visit!


Hey AV...
Well, there ya go! That's a good example, and it's proof enough for me!

Thanks for the visit, my friend!


Hey Sis...
Since you have to work, I'll have your shot for ya! Just 'cause I'm such a nice guy, ya understand!

I appreciate you coming by today!

HermitJim said...

Hey JoJo...
Drunk on just one, hey? I'll have to keep that in mind just in case!

A little wine at dinner time or bed time is a sound idea!

Thanks, sweetie, for coming by today!

Ken said...

...see Jim(hic)...told ya i'm gonna(hic)live ferever(hic)...well at least(hic)longer than most(hic)...lol

HermitJim said...

Hey Ken...
Sounds like you are well on your way!

I couldn't help but be reminded of Foster Brooks when I read your comment! Remember him? Funny guy!

Thanks for the visit, buddy!

Mechanic in Illinois said...

Our family doctor advised my wife and I to have 8oz of dry red wine every night. So for once we do what the doctor says. Thanks for the great information.

HermitJim said...

Hey Mechanic...
Gotta just love that doctor! Always easy to follow advise like that!

Thanks, my friend, for coming by today!

Ken said...

...hello again Jim,sure do remember Foster Brooks,one of the greats,i've heard that the man never had a drink in his life(wonder if that's accurate ?)...anyway,comedians these days could learn alot from those of our past...think i'm gonna go youtubing for him...thank you Sir,for the quick stroll down memorylane...

HermitJim said...

Hey Ken...
I do that all the time, just go trolling on YouTube for different things!

Kids now days miss out on a lot of fun and humor from the greats of long ago!

Oh well, time marches on!

Guess I'm Dying Young(er) said...

On a serious note...
"As I pointed out last year, nondrinkers show greater signs of depression than those who allow themselves to join the party."
From personal experience, when I drink I get more depressed...what you might call a "crying drunk". Maybe that's why some of us choose not to drink.

HermitJim said...

Hey Dying...
In my younger days, I would become a real smart-ass when I drank...don't know how many times that got me in trouble, but it was a lot!

Wonder I didn't get my butt kicked more than I did!

Hey, thanks for coming by today!

Marjie said...

You know, if I'm going to indulge in non food calories, can I make mine chocolate? Preferably Godiva chocolate or Gertrude Hawk chocolate, available only locally, and sinfully delicious? If not, I need my alcohol to be very sweet. Thank you.

HermitJim said...

Hey Marjie...
As you may have gathered from some of my past post...I am a chocolate lover as well!

Reese's, Dove, Hershey's...makes me no difference! Guess that's why my waist line is always expanding!

Life sure has some guilty pleasures around, doesn't it?

Thanks for coming by today!

JoJo said...

Little Devil You. LOL

JoJo said...

Little Devil You. LOL

Survival Chick said...

Thank God, I'll print this out to show people if my drinking is ever questioned again!

HermitJim said...

Hey Survival Chick...
Never hurts to have some copy of a valid reason to show, that's for sure!

Not that we ever really needed to have some proof, but now we can say we have science on our side!

I sure appreciate you coming by today!