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Alcohol is good for you—as long as you’re over 40

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A little alcohol is good for you—but only if you’re over the age of 40.  If you’re younger, no amount is safe, a new study has claimed.

Health benefits from alcohol only begin for the over-40s when a small glass of red wine, for instance, could help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

By the time you reach your sixties, two glasses a day can have a beneficial effect, while those over the age of 65 can safely drink three glasses of alcohol a day.

Researchers from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation analysed data from 204 countries to discover that age is the key factor that determines the benefits—or dangers—of alcohol.  In each of the countries, people aged between 15 and 39 were drinking dangerous amounts of alcohol; overall, 1.34 billion people were drinking excessively, with men being three times more likely than women to be consuming harmful amounts.

“Our message is simple: young people should not drink, but older people may benefit from drinking small amounts,” said Emmanuela Gakidou, one of the researchers. Although the researchers accept that their message is likely to be ignored by young people, they feel they should share their findings so that people can at least make informed choices.

Countries with ageing populations that may have higher risks of cardiovascular disease could benefit from encouraging moderate drinking among its older citizens, the researchers add.

But although alcohol—and red wine in particular—is known to benefit the heart and reduce the risk of diabetes, it is also linked to higher rates of cancer and dementia.  Alcohol-related deaths and hospital admissions have risen sharply among the over-55s in the UK in the last 15 years.

(Source: Lancet, 2022;  doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(22)00847-9)

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Article Topics: Ageing, death, Gerontology, Senescence, wine
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