Alcoholics. A recent article in Time reports that heavy drinkers live longer than nondrinkers. Moderate drinkers faired the best. But the finding that heavy drinkers came in second - above teetotalers - stunned many.
I don't want to recommend that everyone go out and tie one on, but it's important to look at the factors which might be causing this outcome. The article cites socialization and depression as possible factors. Research has shown that nondrinkers tend to be more depressed. Depressed people tend to more isolated and have a smaller network of people around them. Moderate drinkers, or social drinkers, may use alcohol as a means to an end - to be more social. This increased socialization may be the deciding factor.
I think in this era of "social networking" we may underestimate the importance of face to face interactions. A friend who immigrated from Cuba expressed great distress at our lack of town squares and the socializing that traditionally occurs around them. This is one of the things he misses most about Cuban culture. When I visited Costa Rica I had the opportunity to witness this phenomenon. Every town had a town square around which social activities were centered. Every evening after dinner, neighbors would gather. Older people played checkers, smoked, exchanged gossip or caught up on each other's families. Younger people flirted and mingled. Parents rested and chatted. Children played. It is a foundation in that society which is totally missing in modern American culture.
I wonder if it's time to bring it back.
It will be interesting to see future research on this topic.
*It's important to note that the majority of the subjects in this study were men. From what I've read, even moderate drinking seems to adversely affect women regarding female cancers.
See the original article, "Why Do Heavy Drinkers Outlive Nondrinkers?"