Drink Less, Live Longer?


A study published in PLOS Medicine sheds new light on how alcohol affects health and mortality. While some study results were expected – people who drink the most have higher rates of cancer and death – others were surprising. For one, light drinkers who consume one to three alcoholic drinks per week have a lower overall risk of dying young than people who abstain from drinking.

This study, conducted at Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland, involved 99,654 adults between the ages of 55 and 74. It included data from the U.S. Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial collected from 1993 to 2001. Study participants completed diet history questionnaires that included questions about how much alcohol they drank, and were followed for an average of about nine years. Researchers reviewed participants’ medical records to obtain information about cancer diagnoses.

Average lifetime alcohol intake for study participants was about two drinks per week – four drinks in men, slightly less than one for women. The overall risk of death was lowest in men and women who had less than half a drink per day, slightly higher in those who didn’t drink at all, and significantly higher in people who drank more than half a drink per day. Cancer risk rose with higher consumption of alcohol.

Sourced from: PLOS Medicine