Alcohol Benefits to Health Not Accurate, Especially for the Elderly
For years, many people have argued about the benefits of drinking small amounts of alcohol for health, arguing that moderate consumption may protect against cardiovascular disease. The association has been a contentious one, since study results may have been exaggerated or possibly skewed due to errors in monitoring reported drinking amounts. There is also concern about appropriate amounts of consumption for older persons and the risks compounded by the effects on the aging body.
To determine the suitability of age specific alcohol limits in England, a research team of UK and Australian scientists explored the association between alcohol consumption and mortality in different age groups. Using interview data from Health Survey for England 1998-2008 linked to national mortality data, samples of 18,368 and 34,523 adults were analyzed by sex and age group (50-64 years and 65 years and over); the average weekly alcohol consumption and use on the heaviest drinking day of the week. The results were adjusted for a range of personal, socioeconomic, and lifestyle factors.
Published in The BMJ recently, authors stated:
Through analyses based on the Health Survey for England, particularly designed to identify whether any reductions in mortality risk were greatest in older populations, (results) show that if there is any beneficial dose-response relation, it is limited to women aged 65 or more—and even that association is at best modest and likely to be explained by selection bias.
The evidence does not prove the old claim “a few drinks may help curb heart attacks.” According to the World Health Organization, globally, 3.3 million deaths each year result from harmful use of alcohol. In addition, the harmful use of alcohol is associated with more than 200 acute and chronic conditions. Beyond health consequences, harmful alcohol use brings significant social and economic losses.
There is no substantial evidence that any alcohol has health benefits. Talk to a healthcare provider or an addiction center for more information on alcohol abstinence programs.