The next time you've polished off your third beer, and you have that internal debate over whether to stop the party or do a cannonball into shit creek by ordering a fourth beer, do the responsible thing: Order two beers. And a round of shots.
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.
This past Saturday I worked hard to extend my life expectancy, drinking Long Island Iced Teas at Shady Grove like there was a toy prize at the bottom of each glass. I managed to black out somewhere between wingmanning for Dupa and waking up in my bed yesterday morning.
[And, yes, I'm aware that I just said that blackouts aren't common occurrences for me. Fight me.]