A new study by Harvard University researchers suggest that women who drink alcohol in reasonable quantity and time, have better chances to be in good physical and mental health in old age, then non-drinkers.
The experiment shows that one drink a day for women and two for men, “can reduce inflammation, promote healthy cholesterol levels, improve insulin resistance, and help blood vessels function properly.”
The researchers explains that moderate drinking benefits healthy aging in middle-aged women, particularly in terms of heart disease, strokes and brain functioning. However, the study doesn't prove that moderate drinking “will” lead to better health, since it is possible that other factors like an active social life and a healthy appetite also account for the difference.
“It's not clear exactly how alcohol benefits health, but it may have something to do with how alcohol reduces inflammation in the body,” said Qi Sun, MD, the lead author of the study and a nutrition researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health, in Boston.
According to the study published in the Public Library of Science journal, the researchers tracked the health of around 14,000 (mostly white women) and found that those middle-aged women who roughly consumed three to 15 alcoholic drinks per week in their late 50s had 28 percent more chances of being free from chronic illness, mental and physical health problems and cognitive decline in old age.
According to USA Today report, of those who had no major health problems in old age, only 22 percent were non-drinkers, the study reveals.
The study noted that women who consumed alcohol at regular patterns throughout the week, rather than on a single occasion, had somewhat better odds of successful aging. But the authors added that their findings might not apply to men or women of other ethnic groups.
Qi Sun said the findings did not mean that women who didn't drink should start doing so, “If you are physically active, if you have a healthy body weight at midlife, you can have much better odds of achieving successful aging.
“You don’t have to use moderate alcohol consumption as a way to help achieve healthy aging,” he added.
He said, other healthy habits, such as staying slim and exercising regularly, are far more important to overall health than alcohol. One must keep these factors in mind before drawing any inference from anything.