Are Islamic countries/ individuals who practice alcoholic abstinence generally healthier on average than the citizens of the countries that don’t?
There’s so many factors that go into overall lifespan that your question is for all intents and purposes impossible to answer.
I’d venture to guess that modern medical knowledge and basic hygiene are more important than whether you do or don’t drink. But even low dose drinking is apparently healthy (though whether this is due more to pharmacological effects or simply as stress relief, who knows), so if there isn’t a lot of car driving in your country or the “drink to get drunk” meme isn’t prevalent among the youth, then alcohol consumption is likely to be a minor plus to overall national health. If you do have those, it appears to be a negative. But again, the state of medical care and so on is probably a bigger issue, and most Arabic nations aren’t at the top of the class in that area.
I’d suspect any health benefits of not drinking alcohol are canceled out by the monstrously strong coffee drunk in many Islamic countries.
Are you offering that as a serious suggestion?
Because the medical literature does not support such assertions about coffee.
I’d offer up the monstrous amount of cigarettes smoked in many Islamic countries as the cancelling agent to any benefits of not drinking alcohol.
Things like that are so complicated - I read an article that many women in the Muslim countries where full covering and veiling is customary are turning up deficient in vitamin D. So you don’t drink, but you don’t get any sun exposure, and you don’t drive yourself, but, etc, etc, etc. Too complicated to tell, probably.
And a WHO appendix on worldwide tobacco consumption in 2008: http://www.who.int/tobacco/mpower/mpower_report_prevalence_data_2008.pdf
Also just for fun the 2004 WHO report on global alcohol consumption ( pdf ): http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/publications/globalstatusreportalcohol2004_alcconsumpt.pdf
The stats on the above are skewed somewhat by various types of misreporting and unrecorded consumption, such that for example in Europe the Nordic countries are undercounted and poor little Luxembourg ( with a heavy wine-drinking tourist trade ) is overreported.
You’d have to correlate seperate per capita mortality rates due to alcohol and tobacco consumption ( where known ) to see how things shake out. But since in general Europe continues to have BOTH very high alcohol and tobacco consumption levels, I’d have to imagine that there overall per capita mortality due to “hedonism” is at some level worse on average in Europe than ME/NA.
I’d say that might be true of assimilated Muslim immigrants to western countries (or western converts), who have a completely western lifestyle in most respects except are tee-totallers.
As other posters have pointed out there are some many factors that effect health in Muslim countries, such as smoking rates, poverty, and standards of health care.
To subtract out the noise from divergent quality-of-life, healthcare, ethnicity factors, I might start not with this question, but with seeing if anyone’s ever done a study comparing, say, observant white American Mormons and non-Mormon white Americans – seems like you could get people with similar genetic background, diet, lifestyle, so as to isolate in on the single factor (well, I guess caffeine would be another factor) that sets the two populations apart in terms of mortality rate (if it does).
I recall that one of the early persuasive studies on the benefits of “good fats” came from looking at some population of (???) Seventh Day Adventists, who apparently get most of their protein from nuts, and who had very favorable cardiac mortality profiles.