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Health benefits of drinking unclear: study

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 30/01/2017

Glass and bottle of beer © Getty Glass and bottle of beer If you enjoy the odd glass of beer or wine, the jury is still out on whether it is good for you, a new study has found.

Researchers from Massey University say while medical experts commonly advise that drinking alcohol in moderation is good for your health, their study was unable to find evidence to support this.

Studying more than 2900 Kiwis with an average age of around 65, the team initially found those who drank in moderation generally had better health.

"However, we also found that these same moderate drinkers had higher socio-economic status than non-drinkers or heavier drinkers," lead researcher Dr Andy Towers said.

"This makes it hard to conclude whether good health was due to moderate drinking or better socio-economic status."

Using data from the government's Health, Work and Retirement Longitudinal Study, Dr Towers said his study was one of the first to examine whether older people can experience health benefits from drinking.

He said the study found around 45 per cent of men drank daily, while less than 25 per cent of women drank daily.

"Our research suggests that older adults' health doesn't reflect how much they are drinking, it reflects who is drinking," he said

"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."

"Given that older drinkers are more at risk from alcohol-related harm than younger drinkers, this is an important finding."

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