Skip navigation
C. Distinguishing Ex-Drinkers From Long-Term Abstainers

Narrator: This is Science Today. New light has been shed on previous studies which found people who abstain from alcohol had a greater mortality risk than those who drank in moderation. Kaye Fillmore, a professor of social and behavioral sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, found an important distinction between ex-drinkers and long-term abstainers.

Fillmore: For example, among adult men who are ex-drinkers, these people are more likely to be heavy smokers, depressed, unemployed and to be of lower, social class. And then when we looked at women, ex-drinkers were more likely to be heavier smokers, in poorer health and unmarried than long-term abstainers. And these are variables which tend to put you at a little bit higher mortality risk.

Narrator: Fillmore says not taking these variables into consideration may ultimately be detrimental to the public.

Fillmore: What can eventually happen if we're not careful is that the public may not really pay attention to any really very serious health warnings.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.