Monday, 20 January 2020

Healthy living through alcohol

The government's otherwise-banal guide to wellbeing had some rather misleading advice around alcohol. 

I've covered the J-curve pretty extensively here. Long story short, moderate alcohol consumption reduces your risk of all-source mortality, even after adjusting for all of the objections that the temperance folks like to throw at things. 

So the better answer is that moderate drinking comes with negative risk. 

The latest from the British Medical Journal provides further evidence. The table below shows healthy life expectancy at age 50 under a variety of different conditions, including a healthy eating index, smoking, physical activity, alcohol use, and BMI. The effect isn't big compared to other things in there, but moderate alcohol consumption comes with higher life expectancy at age 50. 

And so, throughout the rest of the piece, when the authors tally up an index of healthy behaviours, folks in the study are considered to engage in low-risk drinking not if they teetotal, but rather if they consume moderately: 5 to 15 grams per day for women, or 5 to 30 grams per day for men. 

So if you want to maximise life expectancy, eat a healthy diet, don't smoke, get at least 3.5 hours of physical activity per week (I recommend brisk walking while searching for Pokemon), drink moderately, and keep your BMI between 18.5 and 24.9. The combined effects can give you about an additional decade.

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