New Zealand researchers claimed Tuesday to have debunked the widely-held belief that moderate alcohol consumption is good for your health.
Researchers from Massey University's College of Health found that among more than 2,900 older New Zealanders, with an average age of 65, around 45 percent of men drank daily while less than 25 percent of women drank daily.
"We initially found that older men and women who consumed one to two drinks daily, and considered moderate drinkers, reported better health than non-drinkers or heavier drinkers," study leader Dr Andy Towers said in a statement.
"However, we also found that these same moderate drinkers had higher socioeconomic status than non-drinkers or heavier drinkers. This makes it hard to conclude whether good health was due to moderate drinking or better socioeconomic status."
When the researchers considered socioeconomic status of older New Zealanders in their analysis, they found that any relationship between moderate drinking and health was significantly reduced for women and completely disappeared for men.
"This is one of the first studies in the world to explore whether health benefits of drinking exist for older adults. Our results support a growing international body of research showing there is little evidence of any health benefit of alcohol use for younger or older people that cannot be explained by other lifestyle factors," Towers said.
"In fact, our research suggests that older adults' health doesn't reflect 'how much' they are drinking; it reflects 'who is drinking'. Moderate drinkers tend be wealthier with lifestyles that encourage good health, so it looks like there is a relationship between their drinking and their health status," he said.
"Given that older drinkers are more at risk from alcohol-related harm than younger drinkers, this is an important finding. If alcohol provides no health benefits for older adults, then how much is too much for an older adult to drink?"