Posted on Sep 28, 2011, 6 a.m.
Women who drink 15 grams or less of alcohol a day (the equivalent of one drink of any alcoholic beverage) at midlife may be healthier when older, as compared to tee-totallers or those who drink occasionally.
The 2010 US Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines note that moderate alcohol consumption of up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men may provide health benefits in some people. Qi Sun, from the Harvard School of Public Health (Massachusetts, USA), and colleagues studied data from 121,700 female nurses enrolled in the US Nurses' Health Study, assessing the extent of alcohol consumption of during middle age and correlated the data to the health status in those subjects who lived to 70 years and over. The team found that women who drank up to 15 g of alcohol per day (the equivalent of one drink of any alcoholic beverage) had about a 20% higher chance of good overall health, as compared to non-drinkers. Furthermore, women who drank alcohol regularly had a better chance of good overall health when older than occasional drinkers: compared to women who didn't drink, women who drank modestly five to seven days a week had almost 50% greater chance of good overall health when older. The researchers submit that: “These data suggest that regular, moderate consumption of alcohol at midlife may be related to a modest increase in overall health status among women who survive to older ages.”
Sun Q, Townsend MK, Okereke OI, Rimm EB, Hu FB, et al. 2011 Alcohol Consumption at Midlife and Successful Ageing in Women: A Prospective Cohort Analysis in the Nurses' Health Study. PLoS Med 8(9): e1001090. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001090 .