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Do you drink more sensibly the older you get?

A recent study in the US appears to show that people’s drinking patterns get "healthier" as they get older.

Members of the so-called “Baby Boomer” generation were monitored at two points in their lives and the amount of alcohol they drank was assessed.

Between the ages of 53 and 64, when the subjects were studied, it was found that the amount they drank between each assessment had dropped considerably. However, while drinking less in a sitting, they drank more frequently.

Epidemiologist Professor Curtis Ellison, co-director of The International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research, said: “In most epidemiologic studies  (the study of causes of chronic diseases), regular moderate drinking is the pattern associated with a significantly lower risk of many chronic diseases such as heart disease, ischemic stroke and later onset diabetes for example.

“Hence, the described change in drinking patterns in this study (smaller amounts on more frequent occasions) can be considered a “healthy” change. Most long-term observational studies show a decrease in total alcohol intake with ageing, although reasons for this are poorly understood.  

“This paper emphasises the importance of knowing the pattern of drinking, and not just the total number of drinks consumed over a week, when evaluating the impact of alcohol consumption on health and disease”.

Rupert Millar, 16.06.2010

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