Researchers found that the only group of seniors to get long-term benefits from moderate alcohol intake, such as a prolonged life span, were women aged 65 and older. But even for this group, health benefits were moderate and uncertain since too many factors needed to be taken into account.
For the new study, researchers compared the life span and alcohol intake in 53,000 people aged 50 or more over a 10-year period. They found that women age 65 or older who moderately drank alcohol lived longer than women who never drank. The average alcohol consumption rate which was linked with a longer life span was 5 alcoholic drinks a week.
The study revealed that only women over age 65 who drank five alcoholic drinks per week had a nearly 30 percent lower risk of dieing during the study than women who stayed away from any form of alcoholic beverage.
Still researchers reported that their findings required more research to be conducted because it is possible that the female participants in the study to be healthier than women who didn’t participate at all.
Researchers also found moderate health benefits in men aged 50 to 64, who had a prolonged life span than their peers that didn’t include alcohol in their daily menu. But the benefits were minor compare to the female group aged 65 or more. The study showed that alcohol intake didn’t have any protective value in women aged 50 to 64, or men aged 65 and older.
Scientists explained that they focused on people over age 50 because alcohol intake may lead to different health benefits from those in a younger population. Older people tend to metabolize less efficiently the alcohol in their bodies, while many of them use prescription drugs that may severely interfere with alcohol, researchers argued.
“[For those reasons] it was unclear whether the effects of alcohol consumption in working-age populations would necessarily extend to older individuals,”
said Craig Knott, the lead author of the study and epidemiology and public health researcher at the University College London in the U.K.
The study was based on data collected during an annual national survey conducted in England that would monitor overall population health, and involved questions about the average weekly alcohol intake. In ten years time, nearly 8,300 of the survey participants died.
Researchers assessed the health benefits of weekly moderate alcohol intake in people aged 50 or more, but adjusted the results for a series of factors that may alter life span. One of those factors was the drinking history in people declared in the present as non-drinkers. Researchers excluded this group from their study because past studies had shown that former drinkers had more health problems than people who didn’t drink at all.
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