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Older people benefit from moderate alcohol consumption

A paper published in a scientific journal this week has expanded on earlier research that moderate drinking is beneficial to the health of older people.

old manThe US study, just published in the British Geriatric Society’s journal, Age & Ageing, explores the idea that alcohol consumption, especially of red wine, is associated with lower levels of inflammation, cardiovascular diseases and frailty.

The researchers from the National Institute on Ageing highlighted the statistical correlation between moderate consumption and the diminishing of C-reactive proteins – which are often seen as a symptom or cause of inflammation.

As people age they become more susceptible to inflammation and individuals with high level of C-reactive proteins are, correspondingly, more likely to fall prey to conditions such as frailty and low muscle strength. Inflammation is also a well-known risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

A previous study by the Women’s Health Study Djousse, which canvassed 26,000 people, had shown that individuals who drank between 5 to 14.9 grams of alcohol per day – the equivalent of 1.86 units so a bottle of beer or small glass of wine – had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those who either abstained or drank more than 15g per day.

Inflammation was, furthermore, 21% lower in those who drank moderately compared to teetotalers and 13% lower than in heavy drinkers.

Dr. Luigi Ferrucci, scientific director at The National Institute on Ageing, and one of the authors of the Age & Ageing editorial, said: “While evidence is growing that regular consumption of small amounts of alcohol, especially as red wine, may have beneficial effect on health, there is still some doubts that this protective association found in epidemiological study is attributable to abstention for alcohol of individuals who are already ill.

“Longitudinal studies are needed to shed further light on this question, which has important public health implications.”

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