A new study shows non-drinkers who begin taking the occasional tipple live longer and are less likely to develop heart disease, according to the American Journal of Medicine reports Monday.
Many previous studies have shown that light to moderate drinkers are healthier than teetotalers, but researchers have cautioned that there is no reason for the abstinent to start drinking.
Dr. Dana King of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston and colleagues found that people who started drinking in middle age were 38 percent less likely to have a heart attack or other serious heart event than abstainers -- even if they were overweight, had diabetes, high blood pressure or other heart risks.
King's team studied the medical records of 7,697 people between 45 and 64 who began as non-drinkers as part of a larger study. Over 10 years, 6 percent of these volunteers began drinking.
The researchers tracked the new drinkers and compared them to the persistent non-drinkers, and found there was a 38 percent drop in new cardiovascular disease, Dr. King said.
The findings held even when the researchers factored in heart disease risks such as smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, race, education levels, exercise and cholesterol.
(Agencies via Xinhua News Agency March 10, 2008)