A study from Canada says that "moderate drinkers" have a higher quality of life than abstainers.
The study said that persistent moderate drinkers did not report any adverse health conditions when compared to people who never drank or were infrequent drinkers.
The results were based on a nationwide survey of more than 5,000 adults around 50 years old in 1994-1995. Researchers found that the study participants who were moderate drinkers had the highest quality of life when they were 50 than abstainers. People who reduced alcohol intake and those who drank infrequently also had lower quality of life.
Over the years, quality of life declined in all groups of participants (persistent drinkers, non-users, former users). But, the decline was greater in people who decreased their consumption than those who remained persistent moderate drinkers.
The study defines moderate drinking as having 1–14 drinks per week with no more than 3 on any day for women and no more than 4 on any day for men.
Studies on alcohol consumption are always prone to criticisms. Recently, a study suggested that moderate alcohol consumption by pregnant women does not harm the infant. However, the study wasn't based on cause and effect but had made associations between mothers who were light drinkers and the test scores of their children a few years later, critics pointed out.
The present study too, is haunted with several problems that are pointed out by International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research, an international group of physicians and scientists who provide balanced analysis of research done on alcohol and health.
The study included people who were around age 50. Environment factors largely determine our development and these factors affect people at an early age itself. By taking the baseline itself at 50 years, researchers failed to take in to account what happened earlier.
The Forum points out that as people age, they might give up on alcohol not because they want to but because of other reasons like lack of motivation to drink or loss of social connections. There are many factors that contribute to low quality of life in old age and not just alcohol consumption.
"This study offers a nice try, though, and it is particularly interesting that even among the group of subjects in 'consistently good health' throughout the study period, moderate drinkers reported better HRQL at baseline than did non-drinkers, infrequent drinkers and heavy drinkers," said Erik Skovenborg, forum reviewer.
"According to the Danish rules for sensible drinking (up to 21 drinks/week for men and 14 drinks/week for women and not more than 5 drinks per occasion) these participants would have been categorized as moderate drinkers. And a recent Danish study concluded that occasional binges embedded in a moderate drinking pattern are compatible with a good health," Skovenborg said while quoting a study by Skov-Ettrup LS and colleagues.