Moderate Drinking at Midlife Improves Aging for Women

Regular, moderate consumption of alcohol at midlife tied to improved health status in older women

FRIDAY, Sept. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Regular and moderate alcohol consumption in midlife is associated with successful aging in women who survive to older ages, according to a study published online Sept. 6 in PLoS Medicine.

Qi Sun, M.D., Sc.D., from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues investigated the correlation between midlife alcohol consumption and successful aging in U.S. women. Food frequency questionnaires were administered to 13,894 women aged 70 years or older whose health status was continuously updated. Of these, 98.1 percent who were not heavy drinkers (>45g/d) at midlife were included in the analysis. Successful aging was defined as having no major cognitive, physical impairment, or mental health limitations, and being free of 11 major chronic diseases.

The investigators identified successful aging in 1,491 women. After adjusting for potential confounders, light-to-moderate alcohol consumption at midlife correlated with modestly increased odds of successful aging with an odds ratio OR (with 95 percent confidence interval) of 1.11 (0.96 to 1.29), 1.19 (1.01 to 1.40), 1.28 (1.03 to 1.58), and 1.24 (0.87 to 1.76) for those consuming ≤5.0 g/d, 5.1 to 15.0 g/d, 15.1 to 30.0 g/d, and 30.1 to 45.0 g/d of alcohol, respectively. Independent of total alcohol intake, the odds of successful aging were better for women who drank alcohol at regular intervals throughout the week rather than on a single occasion.

"Light-to-moderate alcohol consumption at the levels of one to two drinks/day or slightly less at midlife may benefit overall health at older ages in U.S. women," the authors write.

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