Alcohol Abstinence Apologetics

It’s been known for a few years that people who drink alcohol tend to live longer (and are more physically active) than non-drinkers (except for extremely heavy drinkers). This is obviously surprising, but might just be a good example of the risks in interpreting epidemiological (population trait correlation) data, or as the chestnut goes, “correlation does not imply causation”. (See discussion on skeptics.stackexchange and my previous clashes with this odd association).

A new CU analysis slices non-drinkers-now by past-heavy-drinking vs. not, and finds that the never-heavy-drinking non-drinkers are equally healthy to light-drinkers-now. . This doesn’t exactly seem fair given that they don’t slice light-drinkers-now in the same way (so they don’t really prove absence of benefit from light drinking), but I think that coupled with the lack of a plausible mechanism (hormesis? feeling less stressed or more rewarded by social encounters while buzzed?), you may as well act as though being the least drunk you can get away with, socially, is the healthiest choice.

It’s easy to imagine plausible factors that “explain away” the advantage of light/moderate drinkers over non; it’s nice that these Colorado U. folks found one that could be tested against existing survey data. Some others: sick people tend to stop drinking alcohol (medication interactions, or just wanting to sleep well and avoiding painful hangovers), people who are more social and active tend to drink w/ friends (people who have good encounters with friends are healthier, causality probably in both directions), extremely poor people may avoid alcohol in favor of necessities, etc.