There’s a Gaping Hole in the Scientific Case for Moderate Drinking

Past studies missed one big reason non-drinkers didn’t live as long as people who imbibed a bit.

It’s an irresistible headline: People who drink alcohol in moderation actually live longer than those who abstain entirely. Counterintuitive studies that show the purported benefits of a drink or two a day prompt flurries of bright news reports. You can hear the glasses clinking.
Buzzkill: It’s probably not true, according to a new analysis of existing research published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

It turns out many studies showing that moderate drinkers live longer than non-drinkers suffer from a big flaw: The “abstainers” category includes people who used to drink but have stopped, sometimes for health reasons. They may be inherently less healthy, as a group, than people who drink in moderation. That doesn’t mean that drinking in moderation causes people to live longer.