Wine Drinkers May Live 4 Years Longer

Men who drink about half a glass of wine a day over decades
may outlive teetotalers by four years on average, a 40-year Dutch study
shows.

But that's not a reason to start drinking, or to drink too much, the
researchers say.

"Since alcohol consumption can be addictive, starting to drink alcohol
because of its positive health benefits is not advised," says researcher
Martinette Streppel in an American Heart Association news release.

Men who currently drink "should do so lightly (one to two glasses per
day) and preferably drink wine," says Streppel, a graduate student at
Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

A standard drink is 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, 8 ounces of malt
liquor, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits or liquor such as rum,
vodka, or whiskey.

The study was presented today in Orlando, Fla., at the American Heart
Association's 47th annual conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and
Prevention.

Moderate Drinking, Longer Life

Streppel and colleagues studied data on 1,373 men living in the Dutch town
of Zutphen.

The men were followed from 1960 (when they were 40-60 years old), until
death or June 2000, whichever came first. During that time, the men completed
up to seven surveys about their drinking habits.

Men who drank any type of alcohol -- in moderate amounts -- tended to live
longer, and the wine drinkers lived longest of all.

Compared with teetotalers, men who reported moderate drinking (less than two
glasses per day) of any type of alcohol were 33% less likely to die of any
cause and 28% less likely to die of heart problems during the study.

Wine showed benefits over other forms of alcohol. Compared with men who
drank no wine, those who drank about half a glass daily were 38% less likely to
die of any cause and 46% likely to die of heart problems during the study.

On average, wine drinkers lived four years longer than men who drank no wine
or other alcohol.

Heart Benefits?

Modest amounts of alcohol, especially wine, may be good for men's hearts,
the researchers note.

Light alcohol intake may boost HDL ("good") cholesterol and help
prevent blood clots, says Streppel.

The researchers didn't ask men to change their drinking habits, and the data
don't show the men's other lifestyle habits, including diet, exercise, and
smoking.

So the study doesn't prove wine or other types of alcohol were the sole
reason for the men's longevity.

By Miranda Hitti
Reviewed by Louise Chang
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