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Moderate Alcohol Consumption May Boost Life Expectancy

A 40 year study published in the April 2009 issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health concluded that drinking moderately may boost life expectancy by up to 5 years.

The Dutch study, known as the "Zutphen Study," followed 1,373 men from 1960 to 2000. The researchers tracked various factors such as weight, diet, cigarette smoking, diagnosis of serious illness, and drinking habits.  All the men were between the ages of 40 and 60 at the beginning of the study.

Over the 40 year follow-up period, 1,130 of the men died and half of those deaths were due to cardiovascular disease.

The researchers found that long term light alcohol consumption resulted in an average increase in life expectancy of 2.5 years compared to non-drinkers.

Drinking more than 0.7 ounces a day extended life expectancy by nearly two years.

Wine drinkers saw the most health benefits.  Wine drinkers who averaged less than half a glass a day had a 5 year increase in life expectancy compared to non-drinkers and a 2.5 year increase compared to beer and spirit drinkers.  Drinking wine was also linked with a lower risk of dying from heart disease, stroke or other causes.

Study author Martinette Streppel noted that these findings cannot necessarily be applied to women, but other studies involving women have seen similar results.

This study both verifies and adds to the growing body of literature regarding the health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption.

Previous studies have shown that light alcohol consumption may lower risk of some cancers, obesity, and diabetes. A number of studies have also determined that the antioxidant in wine, called resveratrol, may have anti-aging properties.

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