Opinion

WALLY'S WORLD: Drink up and enjoy a long, happy life

There are some ridiculous rumors floating around the Plateau about my drinking habits. I’ve addressed such gossip before and there’s surely no need to tackle the issue again. However, to inform any new readers of this goofy column, I’d point out that I’m definitely not a teetotaler. Nor am I a completely brain-muddled alcoholic who, upon awaking, starts each day with a shot or two and, thereafter, is drunk all day, every day. (Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that.) I’m somewhere between these extremes, just like most of you.

Within these limits, there is considerable disagreement concerning how much consumption is acceptable; that is, some people feel that being plastered every weekend is OK – just so you make it to work on Mondays – while others suggest a person should always drink in moderation and never get drunk.

Anyway, bearing these thoughts in mind, the University of Texas and Stanford University have recently released the results of a 20-year study of the effects of booze on longevity. The work involved 2,000 adults, ages 55 to 65, who were divided into four groups: “abstainers” who never drank; “light drinkers” who had no more than one drink a day, whether beer, wine or a cocktail; “moderate drinkers” who had no more than two drinks a day; and “heavy drinkers” who had three or more drinks a day.

The healthy effects of red wine have been well researched and documented. Most medical doctors now recommend a glass of red wine with dinner which I practice religiously – for health reasons, of course. This study would suggest it’s the actual alcohol in the wine and not other ingredients that contribute to a healthy heart. The people who have a martini with dinner seem to enjoy the same benefits to their hearts as those who drink a glass of wine.

The healthy effects of alcohol appeared to be highest among moderate drinkers. On the other hand, those who drank little, if at all, during the week, but got plastered each weekend – the “heavy episodic drinkers” – were associated with increased cardiovascular risk.

The study also indicated moderate drinkers live longer than light drinkers, but heavy drinkers had a 42 percent greater chance of dying compared with moderate drinkers. In other word, moderation seems to be the key here. Around two drinks a day appears to significantly increase a person’s lifespan.

The abstainers had the worst longevity. Those who didn’t drink at all had a 49 percent greater risk of dying during the 20-year study than those who drink moderately. Even among people with poor health status – smokers and the obese – the moderate drinkers still lived longer than non-drinkers. Indeed, even the heavy drinkers, who were plowed every day, lived longer than the teetotalers, cirrhosis be damned!

So if, on occasion, you see me stumbling or crawling down Griffin, alone, in the middle of the night, pay me no mind. I’m just practicing a healthy lifestyle.

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