Thoughts on Better Aging

Alcohol and Longevity Don’t Mix

June 5th, 2018

Even one drink per day could reduce longevity

It’s common knowledge that overindulgence in alcohol is bad for your health. But what about more moderate drinking? According to recent research, daily indulgence in alcohol could take years off your life—even if you have just one drink per day.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge and Duke University reviewed data from 83 studies including nearly 600,000 drinkers from 19 countries, looking for relationships between drinking habits and longevity. They discovered that drinking 100 grams of alcohol per week (which equals about 7 standard drinks in the US) can take years off your life.

Compared to individuals who drink less than 100 grams of alcohol per week, those who drink 100 to 200 grams will lose an estimated 6 months off their life. Individuals who drink 200 to 350 grams of alcohol per week will lose one to two years, and individuals who drink over 350 grams will lose four to five years. The researchers point to increased risk of stroke, heart failure, fatal hypertensive disease, and fatal aortic aneurysm in drinkers as the likely reason for their findings.

Alcohol and Aging

Besides increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease, alcohol consumption can interfere with your healthy aging goals in many other ways:

Weight gain: Alcohol tends to carry a lot of empty calories—something you definitely do not need when you are dealing with a sluggish metabolism during menopause or andropause.

Insomnia: Many people struggle with insomnia as they age due to hormonal changes. Drinking can interfere with sleep, regardless of when the alcohol is consumed.

Skin changes: Alcohol can accelerate some types of skin aging. It tends to give skin a dull look, and there is also the potential for skin to lose hydration, which will make wrinkles and sagging look worse.

Testosterone decline: Men need ample testosterone to look and feel young. Alcohol can interfere with testosterone production by affecting the chemical processes in the brain that normally take place when testosterone is low and needs to be boosted.

Osteoporosis: Drinking causes levels of parathyroid hormone to increase. This hormone affects calcium balance and can increase the risk of bones becoming brittle.

What About Red Wine?

You may have heard that red wine is actually good for you. It’s true that red wine is high in resveratrol, a compound with certain anti-aging benefits that may be protective against cancer, vision loss, and heart disease. However, you can get more resveratrol from eating grapes or berries.

If you do enjoy an occasional drink, red wine is a good choice compared to other types of alcohol. But you should think twice before adding any drink, including red wine, to your daily routine.

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