Here’s a legitimate reason to raise your glass! People who drink regularly are less likely to die prematurely than those who never indulge in alcohol, an intriguing new study finds.

According to experts, abstaining from drinking alcohol altogether can lead to a shorter life span than steady, moderate drinking.

The study found people who enjoyed one to three drinks a day (moderate drinkers) lived longer than those who were teetotalers, irrespective of whether they were formerly heavy drinkers or not.

Doctors have long suspected that imbibing is safe and has heath benefits. In a bid to determine the link between alcohol consumption and longevity, psychologist Charles Holahan of the University of Texas and his team conducted a tightly controlled study. They tracked 1,824 individuals between ages 55 and 65 (63 percent males) over a period of 20 years.

During the study period, 41 percent moderate drinkers died prematurely as opposed to 69 percent volunteers who never had a sip. Surprisingly, people given to excessive drinking fared better than those who stayed dry, exhibiting a 60 percent mortality rate.

Regardless of the elevated threat of cirrhosis, various types of malignancies, dependency, accidents and poor judgment connected with guzzling booze, it was observed that individuals who enjoy alcohol live longer than those who completely abstain. The findings persisted even after accounting for variables ranging from socio-economic status to health to physical activity.

The researchers concluded, “A model controlling for former problem drinking status, existing health problems, and key socio-demographic and social-behavioral factors, as well as for age and gender, substantially reduced the mortality effect for abstainers compared to moderate drinkers.

“However, even after adjusting for all covariates, abstainers and heavy drinkers continued to show increased mortality risks of 51 per cent and 45 per cent, respectively, compared to moderate drinkers. Even after taking account of traditional and non-traditional covariates, moderate alcohol consumption continued to show a beneficial effect in predicting mortality risk”

The findings of the study are published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

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