Drink to your health? It depends on how much drinking you do, study shows

This just in, and it’s definitive (for now): People who drink alcohol in moderation — especially older people, women and non-Latino white people — are less likely to die of any cause than are teetotalers or people who consume heavy doses of alcohol either on occasion or in an average week.

In follow-up periods that hovered around eight years, moderate drinkers were no less likely than alcohol abstainers to die of cancer. But they were roughly a quarter less likely to die of heart disease or stroke than were people who never consumed alcohol.

Heavy drinkers fared slightly worse than moderate drinkers and never-drinkers in their likelihood of dying of any cause during the studies’ follow-up periods. But it wasn’t the risk of heart failure or heart attack that heavy drinkers drove up: it was cancer.

Heavy drinkers’ odds of dying from cancer were roughly 45% higher than were the cancer-death odds of moderate drinkers.

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