By NICHOLAS BAKALAR New York Times
Many studies have found an association between the moderate consumption of alcohol and increased longevity, and some have found evidence that wine has a more beneficial effect than other alcoholic drinks.
Now an analysis in the January issue of The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs suggests that martinis and beer may be just as effective at extending life. Wine may have appeared to be better only because the people who choose it are generally healthier.
Researchers studied 802 men and women ages 55 to 65: 281 low-wine drinkers who consumed less than one-third of their alcohol as wine, 176 high-wine drinkers who consumed two-thirds or more as wine, and 345 abstainers. The drinkers had one to two drinks per day, and researchers followed them for 20 years.
Wine drinkers lived longer than abstainers, and high-wine drinkers longer than low-wine drinkers. But compared with high-wine drinkers, low-wine drinkers were more likely to be older men, to be less active physically, to smoke and to be of lower socioeconomic status. After controlling for these factors, the difference between the two groups of moderate drinkers disappeared.
The lead author, Charles Holahan, a psychologist at the University of Texas, said there may be benefits for older moderate drinkers no matter what kind of alcohol they consume. Still, he added, “The study does not encourage initiating wine consumption as a pathway to better health.”