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New Data on Alcohol and Duration of Life


IN “Alcohol and Longevity” (New York: Knopf, 1926) Pearl presented life tables embracing some 5248 persons, living and dead, from the working-class population of Baltimore, divided into groups according to the extent and regularity of their alcohol consumption during life. The life tables demonstrate that, so far as could be judged by the sample of lives: “the moderate drinking of alcoholic beverages did not shorten life. On the contrary, moderate steady drinkers exhibited somewhat lower rates of mortality and greater expectation of life than did abstainers. This superiority is not great in the male moderate drinker, and may not be significant statistically. But it certainly gives no support to the almost universal belief that alcohol always shortens life, even in moderate quantities.”

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  1. Papers from the Statistical Department of the Johns Hopkins Hospital (No. 10), and from the Institute for Biological Research of the Johns Hopkins University.

  2. Pearl, R., and Bacon, A. L., Biometrical Studies in Pathology. IV. Statistical Characteristics of a Population Composed of Necropsied Persons, Arch. of Path. and Lab. Med., vol. 1, pp. 329–347, 1926. V. The Racial and Age Incidence of Cancer and other Malignant Tumors; Ibid. vol. 3, pp. 963–992, 1927.

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  3. Meaning persons of pure negro blood, or mixed negro ana white in any proportion.

  4. Miner, J. R., œThe Centering Points of Distribution by Age at Death, Amer. Jour. Hyg., Vol. 5, pp. 102–105, 1925.

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PEARL, R., BACON, A. New Data on Alcohol and Duration of Life. Nature 121, 15–16 (1928).

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