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Women in their 50’s are told that two drinks a day can fight off illness

senior woman drinks calmly red wine

Ladies in their 50’s who regularly have a little wine with their dinner are more likely to be free of the ills of old age, from cancer to heart disease, than those who are teetotal or drink to excess. A major study has concluded that their minds are sharper, their bodies are fitter and that they are in better mental health.

As you can well imagine, there were major noises of justification and approval reverberating around the office when we found this report recently.

The Harvard University researchers took information on how much 120,000 female nurses drank in middle age and compared it with data on their health at 70-plus. The women had an average age of 58 at the start of the study and almost 11 per cent of those who lived into their 70’s had ‘successfully aged’ –they had avoided a number of the major ills of old age, including cancer, heart attacks, stroke and diabetes.

They were also mentally sharp, as judged by tests for signs of Alzheimer’s disease, and physically fit, with everyday tasks such as vacuuming or climbing stairs causing them little difficulty. Those who regularly drank light-to-moderate amounts of alcohol in middle age were most likely to be in this group.

Drinking 15g to 30g of alcohol a day raised the odds of good overall health in later years by 28 per cent, with wine and spirits particularly beneficial. With 8g equating to one unit of alcohol, this is the equivalent of almost four small glasses of wine a day or four single measures of spirits.

But due to concern that alcohol raises the likelihood of breast cancer, the researchers recommend that women stick to 15g of alcohol a day. This amount – equal to around two small glasses of wine – boosted the odds of a healthy old age by almost 20 per cent.

The study also showed daily drinking to be more beneficial than tippling just once or twice a week and that daily drinkers were 50 per cent more likely to have a healthy old age than those who never drank.

Author of the report, Qi Sun, of Harvard’s School of Public Health, said: ‘For lifetime drinkers, if they drink moderately and sensibly, it is OK for them to continue and enjoy the consumption and maximise their odds of successfully ageing. But for non-drinkers, I would never recommend that they start drinking.’

He added that men would be expected to benefit similarly from moderate drinking, but there is a lack of evidence on the subject.

Whilst moderate consumption of red wine has been credited with a host of health benefits, among them are preventing blood clots and raising levels of HDL cholesterol, the ‘good cholesterol’ that protects against hardening of the blood vessels, this report shouldn’t be used as evidence that drinking is good for you – just that regular small amounts of alcohol in middle age might be good for you if you enjoy a tipple at home anyway. No one is recommending that anyone should increase their intake of booze as a way of being healthier later on in life.

Sorry ladies, but as you well know, nothing is as good as it first seems!  At which point, our office has gone quiet!

What’s your favourite tipple at home?

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1 Comment »

  1. Very helpful post man, thanks for the info.

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