In today’s world, there are many debates about diet and fitness. Some people cite one beverage healthy while others do not. Similarly, there are also divisions among health professionals. Perhaps the most controversial of such habits is drinking alcohol.
Alcohol consumption is popular around the world. The majority of the people as young as fifteen have alcohol in their weekly consumption. The drink is popular in parties, dinners, and celebrations. While it is good for fun, research states it is not good for health.
In addition, a higher than average alcohol consumption may also cause health problems. According to research, drinking alcohol may cause liver issues, gastrointestinal problems, and pancreatitis.
However, there is also research that supports the benefits of drinking alcohol. These include reducing the risk of diabetes, ischemic stroke, and heart disease. So, is alcohol really harmful to health?
Such differences in conclusions of studies are what lead to conflicting opinions among scientists. Recently, another research adds to the positive side of alcohol. The Health and Retirement Study (HRS) has recently given its findings.
The HRS study is among the most large-scale studies in the United States. It concentrates on alcohol and mortality rates in the country. Now, after sixteen years, it has given a conclusion. The findings of the study appear in the journal Alcoholism – Clinical & Experimental Research.
The leading author of the study is Katherine Keyes. She is currently an associate professor of epidemiology at the Columbia University in New York City.
What Was the Research Methodology?
The main participants in the newest finding are around eight thousand older adults. This includes people born between the years of 1931 to 1941. Originally, these participants registered for the study in 1992.
Since the year of 1998, these participants gave information on their alcohol intake. The information is available until 2014 via the interviews that were conducted for this reason.
Furthermore, the participants were also in five different divisions during the study. The two main are heavy and moderate drinks. The rest include occasional drinking, lifetime abstaining, and current abstaining.
A person having less than 15 drinks in their entire life will qualify for lifetime abstinence. Men drinking more than three and women drinking more than two drinks will qualify for heavy drinkers.
People who consume 1-2 days per week will qualify for moderation drinking. Lastly, people who consume 1 or two drinks per week qualify as occasional drinkers.
What Was the Conclusion?
The findings of the study were mixed. Like in previous studies, moderate and occasional drinkers had higher health benefits than others. What came as a surprise was the abstaining adults.
The highest mortality rates were in these adults. According to the researchers, this was because of reverse causations. The majority of these participants left drinking because of a disease or poor health. Instead of positive effects, this caused negative effects.
Another important finding was the women who drank moderately had the lowest chances of premature death. Though these findings highlight the problem of reverse causation, they are limited. Further research is needed to know more about the impact of drinking alcohol in older adults.