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To your health

Dr. Arun Karlamangla, a geriatrician at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), led a study of the beneficial effects of moderate alcohol consumption by “seniors” (who were defined to be men and women over the age of 50). ( :-) Note added January 28, 2009: I thought that “life begins at 40!”) The study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found that healthy seniors who consumed light to moderate amounts of alcohol reduce their odds of developing disabilities, or dying (a MAJOR disability :-) ) in the next five years, as compared with EITHER heavy drinkers or those who abstain.

Light to moderate drinking was defined as less than 15 drinks per week and fewer than five per day (four per day for women). Heavy drinking was defined as 15 or more drinks per week  or five or more per day. Abstaining was defined as fewer than 12 drinks during the last 12 months.

A major caveat is that the participants had to be healthy. Those in fair or poor health derived no health benefits from alcohol consumption.

Although the study did not look at the causes behind the relationship between alcohol consumption and protection against physical disabilities and death, the researchers suspect that alcohol may cause a slowing of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Another explanation may be the well-documented benefit of raising good (HDL) cholesterol levels through alcohol consumption.

Dr. Karlamangla said that she drinks a glass of red wine every night and encourages her patients to drink in moderation.

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

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