All-cause mortality rates are lower among moderate drinkers than among abstainers

The author of this paper set out to determine the extent to which potential “errors” in many early epidemiologic studies led to erroneous conclusions about an inverse association between moderate drinking and coronary heart disease (CHD). His analysis is based on prospective data for more than 124,000 persons interviewed in the U.S. National Health Interview Surveys of 1997 through 2000 and avoids the pitfalls of some earlier studies. He concludes that the so-called “errors” have not led to erroneous results, and that there is a strong protective effect of moderate drinking on CHD and all-cause mortality.

The results of this analysis support the vast majority of recent well-done prospective studies. In the present paper, non-drinkers had much higher risk of death than did almost all categories of subjects consuming alcohol. The author contends that these results lend credence to the argument that the relationship between alcohol and mortality is causal.

While some Forum reviewers felt that this analysis only replicates what has been shown in many other papers, it appears that erroneous information continues to be used by some policy groups in setting drinking guidelines. Thus, most reviewers believe that this new analysis provides important information on potential health effects of moderate drinking.


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