It’s well known that too much alcohol can harm your health and even cause death, but a new study indicates that a little bit of booze may actually prevent early death. The exact reason isn’t clear, but researchers said their findings still don't give you a reason to binge. 

Light to moderate alcohol consumption was linked to lower risk of death from all causes, particularly cardiovascular disease. These results are based on an analysis of 333,247 volunteers whose alcohol consumption and health records were followed over the course of 12 years. The team found that women who drank moderately experienced a 25 percent decreased risk for all-cause mortality and a 34 percent decreased risk of cardiovascular death. Male moderate drinkers experienced a 13 percent decreased risk of all-cause mortality and a 21 percent decreased risk of cardiovascular death. Similar results were also found in light drinkers.

The researchers pointed out that once drinkers crossed the line from moderate to heavy drinking, the health benefits quickly turned to health consequences. For example, male heavy drinkers experienced a 25 percent increased risk of mortality due to all causes, and a 67 percent increase in mortality from cancer.

One of the study's authors, Sreenivas Veeranki, said in a recent statement that the research addressed problems in earlier studies, such as abstainer bias, and people who quit drinking because they're sick. She advises drinkers to drink with awareness of the potential risks. 

The researchers admitted there were still limitations to their findings; for example, they obtained their answers on how much people drank via survey, and humans are known to lie or have a poor memory with it comes to their own vices. Still, this is not the first time science has suggested there may be health benefits to drinking moderate amounts of alcohol.

For example, a study published earlier this month found that moderate alcohol consumption was associated with lower risk of experiencing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related brain impairments. In fact, according to the results, men and women who consumed moderate to heavy amounts of alcohol five to seven day a week were twice as likely to avoid Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related forms of dementia, when compared to counterparts of the same age who did not drink at all.

While this study was not designed to account for the differences in cognitive decline between drinkers and nondrinkers, the research suggests it may not be the alcohol that confers the benefit; it's the lifestyle of a person more likely to drink. 

“Some people have health problems that are made worse by alcohol, and others cannot limit their drinking to only a glass or two per day,” explained lead study researcher Erin Richard in a statement. “For these people, drinking can have negative consequences."

Source: Xi B, Veeranki SP, Zhao M, et al. Relationship of Alcohol Consumption to All-Cause, Cardiovascular, and Cancer-Related Mortality in U.S. Adults. J ournal of the American College of Cardiology . 2017