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Could Alcohol be the Fountain of Youth?

new study on alcohol and longevity: a man holding a glass of wine

If you want to live past 90, you better start drinking two glasses of wine a day.

Researchers at the Clinic for Aging Research and Education in Laguna, Woods, California, recently revealed the secret to longevity of more than 1,600 Americans who are currently over 90 years old.

The 90+ Study, which involved the “oldest of the old” Americans, started in 2003 and was meant to determine the magic formula that leads to longer life. This year, the researchers zoomed in on lifestyles, activities, and food.

new study on alcohol and longevity

Based on the results, people who drank two glasses of beer or wine a day lived longer than those who didn’t drink alcohol.

Neurologist Dr. Claudia Kawas heads the 90+ Study at the University of California. In February, she presented the research findings at the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science held at Austin, Texas.

US News quoted Kawas who delivered the keynote address: “I have no explanation for it, but I do firmly believe that modest drinking improves longevity.”

Drinking Within Limits

There have been countless studies on the positive effects of light to moderate alcohol consumption. This is classified as under 14 drinks a week for men and 7 for women. The protective effects are most significant when it comes to preventing heart disease.

Researchers also revealed that for older people, the benefits of light drinking “clearly outweighed” the possible health risks.

Dr. Bo Xi, is an associate professor at Shandong University School of Public Health in China. Her team analyzed data from over 300,000 participants in the US from 1977 to 2009. The data came from National Health Interview surveys.

“Our research shows that light to moderate drinking might have some protective effects against cardiovascular disease, while heavy drinking can lead to death. A delicate balance exists between the beneficial and detrimental effects of alcohol consumption, which should be stressed to consumers and patients.” 

According to the study, moderate drinking reduced risk of mortality from various causes by as much as 25%, while death from cardiovascular disease was reduced by as much as 34% across both genders.

At the same time, two antioxidant compounds found in red wine – resveratrol and quercetin – have been proven effective in preventing inflammation and blood clotting.

What is it About Alcohol?

Florence Bearse from Bangor, Maine, celebrated her 100th birthday and said that the key to long life is a glass of wine. Antonio Docampo, who reached the ripe old age of 107, drank a mix of brandy and red wine every day. And then there’s Eileen Ash, 105, from Norwich, England, who claims that two glasses of red wine daily was her secret to a long and healthy life.

According to scientists, the beneficial component is polyphenols, which is found mostly in red wine – not white. This makes red wine the better and healthier option since the skin of the grapes are removed before the fermentation process. Unfortunately, the phytochemical compounds are found on the skin.

Interestingly, your nightly glass of wine or bottle of beer can also increase creativity. A research published by Dr. Mathias Benedek of Austria revealed that moderate alcohol consumption enhances the brain and boosts creative activities such as writing or painting.

So it turns out parents and grandparents have been on to something all along. Cheers!

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