By Rodney Hays
Raise your glass and let's all toast the fact that heavy drinkers live longer than non-drinkers.
I've been waiting on this research to come out for quite some time now. In case you haven't heard, Time magazine is running a feature story on a study that was conducted about mortality rates among people who are heavy drinkers, moderate drinkers and non-drinkers.
The study was done over 20 years with 1,824 people who were between the ages of 55 and 65 and had any kind of outpatient care in the previous three years.
According to the magazine's website, "Just over 69% of the never-drinkers died during the 20 years, 60% of the heavy drinkers died and only 41% of the moderate drinkers died."
That's right, you are 9% more likely to die if you don't drink at all. People who drink moderately never die.
That is an awesome statistic.
Since I don't want to die, I'm going to start moderately drinking beginning now as I write this column.
Haha. That's a joke, I started early this morning, way before I started writing this column.
First thing I had to do was to figure out what "moderate" drinking was. I went to the Internet -- The
Source Of All Truth -- to find my answer. According to the Center for Disease Control and Bartending, moderate drinking is defined as "no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men."
That can't be right. It's time to go back to the Internet -- The Source Of All Truth -- for another reference.
And here it is. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, "a man can drink up to four drinks on a day and still be considered moderate drinkers."
Now that's more like it.
As a person that likes to partake of an adult beverage every now and again, I really like it when people feel the need to produce studies justifying the need to drink. I know there are a lot of people who are going to oppose this type of research (I'm looking at you Pat Robertson), but there seems to be some benefits to being a moderate or "social drinker."
There are probably several reasons that moderate drinkers and even heavy drinkers outlive those who might be considered teetotalers.
The first is probably the whole social network thing. People who drink socially, tend to do so in -- wait for it -- social settings. They hang around people. They talk. They laugh. They enjoy the company of others.
I also think moderate drinkers have a lot less stress than those who don't drink at all.
Let's imagine two very different scenarios.
First, let's imagine coming home from a rough day at work sitting down on the couch and watching an hour of Keith Olbermann before eating a gallon of Ben & Jerry's Karamel Sutra and falling asleep to a Rachel Maddow marathon. The next thing you know, you're walking the dog and mumbling to yourself when your wife walks up and says, "honey, we don't have a dog. Now put down that rake."
Now, let's imagine being that same person coming home from a especially stressful day, walking over to the bar, pouring a nice glass of red wine, or popping open a beer or perchance mixing a nice vodka and Red Bull. This can only lead to one thing and that is a night of peaceful bliss, forgetting the cares of the world and MSNBC. The worst thing that can happen is that you can't seem to get the awful taste of Red Bull out of your mouth.
You tell me. Which one of these two scenarios is going to relieve the most stress?
The second scenario, of course.
I have to say I have lived on both sides of the alcohol drinking fence.
There was a time when my Baptist upbringing kept me from drinking any alcohol. At that point, I figured if God wanted us to drink, he would've given us shot glasses instead of hands.
Even then, I always had questions about why Jesus turned water into wine and wine was served at the last supper and so forth. I asked that question to many theologians and I always got the same answer: The wine was different then. It was much weaker and you couldn't get drunk. And the water was really disgusting so they had to drink wine.
I never could understand that.
What I did understand was when a much wiser individual told me the difference between Catholics and Baptists. "The Baptists won't wave at each other at the liquor store," he said.
I lived the teetotaler lifestyle for a while, but I have since mended my ways and understand that moderation in anything is really the way to go.
We would all live a lot healthier lifestyles if we could live our lives in moderation.
Working hard is great ... in moderation. Playing hard is a lot of fun ... in moderation. A big ol' steak with bake potatoes and a slice of grandma's coconut cream pie is amazing ... in moderation.
The world will be a healthier place if we would take smaller doses of a lot of stuff, including MSNBC and Rush Limbaugh.
And we would all probably get along better if we took our religion in moderate doses. If we approached people of differing opinions with a little more open minds. If we could all just see that love is really what makes the world go round.
So everything is good in moderation. Except love, you can abuse the heck out of that stuff.
To read more of Rodney Hays' humor, check out his blog at www.rodneyhays.com. Follow him on Twitter and become a friend on Facebook.