As Malawi moves towards restricting alcohol consumption among its citizens largely due to health risks, a study by the US professor of Psychology at University of Texas found that moderate drinking, about one to two drinks per day, reduces mortality among older and middle-aged adults.
This contradicts a 2009 survey by the World Health Organization on Non Communicable Diseases, and its risk factors that showed that 20 percent of all Malawians consume alcohol.
In a study Charles Holahan , professor of psychology at The University of Texas at Austin, and a team of researechers found the health benefits of drinking among older adults are intrinsically linked to moderation.
Using data gathered from a larger study of late-life patterns of drinking, the researchers followed 1,824 older adults (1,142 men, 682 women) between the ages of 55 and 65 who were former or current drinkers for 20 years.
The information collected included: daily alcohol consumption, socio-demographic factors, former problem-drinking status, health factors and social behavioral factors.
Findings show a substantial part of the survival effect for moderate drinking among older adults is explained by confounding factors associated with alcohol abstention.
Compared to moderate drinkers, abstainers in the study sample included many former problem drinkers and individuals with more health problems and health risk factors (such as lower physical activity and more cigarette smoking) compared to moderate drinkers.
The researchers also found those who drank moderately were more likely to live longer across a 20-year follow-up than those who drank heavily or who didn’t drink at all.
The findings showed increases in mortality risk of 42 percent for heavy drinkers and 49 percent for abstainers in comparison to moderate drinkers.
Health experts say alcohol abuse causes significant public health problems.
Dr Beatrice Mwagomba, the Program Officer for the NCDs and Mental Health in the Ministry of Health said: “There [are]…major non communicable diseases [like] diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular diseases in general, respiratory diseases as well as cancers”.
She said these include liver cancer and esophagus cancer or cancer of the throat and there is evidence that alcohol does impact of these three major non communicable diseases.
But the study claims that people who never consume alcohol are more likely to die sooner than those who drink regularly. That means non-drinkers may be able to extend their livelihood by staying active and going out with friends—even if they just knock back a water or two.
Red wine is still touted for its heart health and overall blood circulation benefits, but the study did not look into the particulars of different types of alcohol consumed by individuals.
All in all, health experts say everyone has responsibility for their own health.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :