Cheers! Glass of wine or a pint of beer can cut risk of early death
A glass of wine or pint of beer a day can help people to live longer, according to new research.
The study suggests light-to-moderate alcohol consumption - classed as less than 14 drinks a week for men, and seven for women - may have "protective" health effects and can reduce the risk of dying young.
Experts said the findings show that for most older people, the overall benefits of light drinking "clearly outweigh" the possible cancer risk.
Heavy drinking has been linked to a host of health issues - including heart disease, but alcohol in moderation is widely recommended.
Previous studies of the risk of dying among light-to-moderate drinkers were inconsistent in their findings.
For the new study, researchers examined the association between alcohol consumption and risk of mortality from all causes, cancer and cardiovascular disease in the United States.
They studied data from 333,247 participants obtained through the National Health Interview Surveys from 1997 to 2009.
They were divided into six groups, based on their drinking patterns: lifetime abstainers, lifetime infrequent drinkers, former drinkers and current light (less than three drinks per week), moderate (more than three drinks per week to less than 14 for men or less than seven for women) or heavy drinkers (more than 14 per week for men or seven for women).
Study lead author Doctor Bo Xi, associate professor at Shandong University School of Public Health in China, said: "Our research shows that light-to-moderate drinking might have some protective effects against cardiovascular disease, while heavy drinking can lead to death.
"A delicate balance exists between the beneficial and detrimental effects of alcohol consumption, which should be stressed to consumers and patients."
Throughout the length of the study, 34,754 participants died from all causes. Of those, 8,947 were cardiovascular disease-specific, and 8,427 mortalities were cancer-specific.
Researchers found that male heavy drinkers had a 25pc increased risk of mortality due to all-causes and a 67pc increase in mortality from cancer.
The increases were not significantly noticed in women.
Moderate drinking was associated with a 13pc and 25pc decreased risk of all-cause mortality, and 21pc and 34pc decreased risk of cardiovascular disease mortality, respectively, in both men and women. (© Daily Telegraph London)