06/25/2012 05:44 pm ET

Moderate Alcohol Consumption Linked With Higher Quality Of Life: Study

A new study suggests that those who regularly imbibe responsibly may enjoy a higher quality of life.

A new study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs shows that people who regularly had one drink a week -- and never more than three in a single day for women, or four in a single day for men -- for a sustained six-year period had a higher quality of life than people abstaining from alcohol.

The study included 5,404 people in Canada who were 50 or older around 1994 and 1995. The researchers followed them over 14 years, asking them about their alcohol intake and health status every four years. More than 31 percent of them decreased the amount of alcohol they consumed over the 14-year period.

Researchers also noted that quality of life declined the most for people who decreased the amount of alcohol they drank over the study period, although everyone's quality of life decreased to some extent over the 14 years.

In a review, Dr. Harvey Finkel, M.D., of the Boston University Medical Center pointed out that the reasons for the decrease in alcohol intake may be a bigger factor in quality of life than the actual decrease in alcohol.

"As people age, even disregarding medical obstacles, social interactions generally decrease, which leads to both less stimulation to drink and less opportunity to drink," Finkel said in a statement.

Another reviewer also pointed out that much of quality of life is established earlier in life, so it may be difficult to draw direct associations between alcohol consumption patterns later in life and quality of life.

For the full critiques on the study by International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research members, click here.

According to the Mayo Clinic, moderate alcohol consumption is considered two glasses of alcohol per day for men, and one glass of alcohol per day for women. Moderate alcohol consumption has been linked with heart benefits, but drinking too much can increase the risk of liver damage, heart problems and even cancer.

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol problems or addiction, call the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence at 1-800-622-2255.