The destructive effects of the excessive use of alcohol are well documented. Most people though are able to control their drinking and a new study from the USA has concluded that moderate drinking can lead to improved health later in life.
Alcohol seems to be getting more and more bad press in the UK as the media continues to fill our screens and newspaper headlines with frequent incidents of intoxicated revellers reduced to obscene and degrading behaviour on our city streets. Statistics also look bleak when professional counsellors at alcohol treatment centres set the average the average age of patients as around 25. But researchers from the Harvard school of Public health had good news to reveal this week about how moderate intake of alcohol can aid us all in old age.
Women benefit from regular and moderate drinking
The researchers studied 14,000 women in America aged between 21 and 80 and focussed on daily intake of alcohol, frequency, and the time it was taken. The overall conclusion was that women who drink in moderation were far more likely to reach 70 in good health than heavier drinkers or abstainers. The findings suggested that it did not matter whether the drink was a pint of beer or a glass of wine; it was the amount of units that was important.
The findings suggested that a woman who had a constant “drip-feed” of alcohol, - drank little and often – were much more likely to fare better as far as their health was concerned when compared with a peer who either saved all their drinking to the weekend (not necessarily drinking in excess) or drank only a little now and again. The study showed that women who drank on 5-7 days of the week had almost double the chance of good overall health in old age compared with complete abstainers. Good overall health (the study calls this “successful aging” and relates to health free of conditions like cancer, diabetes and heart disease in their 70s and beyond) could be enhanced, the study professed, by drinking no more than 2-3 units a day.
This report is welcomed by such organisations as the British Heart foundation. It helps to impress the fact that alcohol in itself when taken for its own qualities is not only enjoyable but beneficial to our overall health. The problems which are cutting across UK society we see daily on our TV screens and in our alcohol rehab centres are the result of excess and abuse.