Dr. Marinette Streppel led a team of researchers at Wageningen University in the Netherlands to study the long-term effects of alcohol consumption on men's health. What they found is that light consumption of alcohol provides about two extra years of life while light consumption of wine provides yet another three years of life, for a total of five years.
The researchers say: "Long-term wine consumers had about five years longer life expectancy at age 50 compared with non-alcohol users. Of these five years, about two years can be attributed to an effect of alcohol intake. The remaining three years can be attributed to an effect of wine consumption." For the study, 70% of the wine consumed was red.
The researchers add: "This suggests that the cardioprotective effect of wine could be due to a protective effect of polyphenolic compounds in red wine, but other explanations cannot be ruled out." In the UK, 720m bottles of red wine were consumed last year, compared with 764 million bottles of white and 150 million of rosé.
"Light" consumption here really is light — about half a glass of wine (or other types of alcohol) per day. That isn't very much. Who drinks just half a glass of wine? By "glass" I assume they mean the technical serving size, not the sort of "glass" which most people actually tend to drink. That's what, two or three sips of wine?
Fortunately, all is not quite lost for people who dare to finish that glass, or even have a second glass of wine! Apparently drinking up to two glasses of wine a day correlates with living about two years longer. On the other hand, the same is true for drinking about two pints of beer or two shots of spirits per day.
It seems as though once you reach the level of what one might normally drink (if they are drinking during a meal), any extra positive effects of wine are lost. What's still not clear, though, is why there is so much positive effect at all — does alcohol really provide that much collective benefit over time?
Since alcohol does have some negative health effects, I assume that there is some shortening of life as well... but if the alcohol shortens your life by a year or two, yet you still live a couple of years longer, this means that the positive effect of the alcohol must be enough to make up for the drawbacks plus provide a little more. That would be a lot of positive benefits, which is surprising.