A glass or two of alcohol a day in middle age could help women enjoy a happy and healthy retirement.
That’s the result of a major study in the U.S which concluded that those women who drank two drinks a day in their fifties were sharper, fitter and more likely to be in a better state of mental health.
In fact women who had some wine with dinner reduce their chances of cancer and heart disease to those that were teetotal or drank too much.
Alcohol experts however have been quick to claim that the study should not be used to justify ‘anything beyond very modest levels of drinking.’ They said that better health could be due to many other factors, such as sensible drinkers having a healthier diet and exercising more.
The study, conducted by researchers at the prestigious Harvard University compiled their research from 120,000 female nurses, analysing how much they drank in middle age and comparing it with data on their health at 70 plus.
It found that the consumption of two moderate glasses of wine or alcohol units boosted the odds of a healthy old age by almost 20 per cent.
Other key findings from the study included;
~ Almost 11 per cent of those who lived into their 70’s had ‘successfully aged’ – that is, they had dodged 11 of the major ills of old age, including cancer, heart attack, stroke and diabetes.
~ Drinking 15g to 30g of alcohol a day raised the odds of good overall health in later years by 28 per cent, with wine and spirits particularly beneficial.
~ Daily drinkers were 50 per cent more likely to have a healthy old age than those who never drank.
Professor Jack Lucke, of the University of Queensland in Australia, said: ‘It would be easy to misinterpret this study as evidence that drinking is good for you. Rather, the take-home message is that regular small amounts of alcohol in middle age might be good for you.’
Graham Skeggs, of the charity Alcohol Concern, said: ‘While low levels of drinking may not be detrimental, we would certainly not recommend increasing intake in an attempt to be healthy.
Source: Sydney Morning Herald and the PLoS Medicine journal.