Men who drink up to half a glass of wine a day may live five years longer than teetotalers, according to a Dutch study published online Thursday by the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. The study also concluded that men who consumed light-to-moderate quantities (about 20 grams) of any type of alcohol daily gained two and a half years of life expectancy, with a lower risk of dying from coronary heart disease and other ailments associated with poor circulation.
The study, conducted at the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands, studied the lifestyle and alcohol consumption of 1,373 men born between 1900 and 1920 whose health had been examined regularly between 1960 and 2000. During that time period, 1,130 of the men died, more than half from heart disease, and the researchers compared the cause of death to the men's drinking habits.
The researchers found that light-to-moderate alcohol consumption of any beverage extended life by about two and a half extra years compared to men who drank no alcohol at all.
And men who drank only wine, up to about half a glass 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 researchers noted that alcohol consumption among the men nearly doubled during the course of the study, from 45 percent drinking to 86 percent, with wine growing especially popular. It was the beverage of choice for 2 percent at the start of the study but grew to 44 percent.
"In this study, 70 percent of all wine consumed was red wine," the researchers, led by Dr. Marinette Streppel of the Division of Human Nutrition, wrote in the paper. "This suggests that the cardioprotective effect of wine could be due to a protective effect of polyphenol compounds in red wine, but other explanations cannot be ruled out."
These results are irrespective of socioeconomic status, dietary and other lifestyle habits, factors long thought to influence the association between wine drinking and better health, the team noted in a statement.