Drinking up to half a glass of wine a day may boost life expectancy by five years, at least in men, it was claimed today.
Dutch researchers studied a total of 1,373 randomly selected men whose cardiovascular health and life expectancy at age 50 were repeatedly monitored between 1960 and 2000. They looked into how much alcohol the men drank, what type it was, and over what period, to see whether this had any impact on the risks of their dying from cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, and from all causes. They also tracked weight and diet, whether the men smoked, and for how long, and checked for the presence of serious illness.
The scientists found that light long-term alcohol consumption of all types - up to 20g a day- extended life by around two extra years compared with no alcohol at all. Extended life expectancy was slightly less for those who drank more than 20g. Men who drank only wine, and less than half a glass of it a day, lived around two-and-a-half years longer than those who drank beer and spirits, and almost five years longer than those who drank no alcohol at all, the study found. Drinking wine was strongly associated with a lower risk of dying from coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and death from all causes.
The Wine and Spirit Trade Association said: "This study reinforces the view taken by a Government committee some years ago that moderate consumption of alcohol can have a positive impact on people's health, particularly in relation to heart disease. It's important to recognise the benefits of moderate consumption while acknowledging the risks associated with alcohol misuse."
Alcohol Concern chief executive Don Shenker said: "Alongside other research into drinking patterns, there are a very limited number of people for whom moderate alcohol intake may be beneficial, but this must be weighed up against the serious risks caused by drinking at more than moderate amounts."