Is Alcohol Better—More Beneficial—For Your As You Get Older?

Alcohol is one of the most widely consumed potables in the world.  It makes an appearance across the annals of human history and continues to make its way through societies of today.  As such, alcohol is also quite commonly studied, both for its harmful effects and, more importantly, the ways it might actually benefit us. 

For one, red wine is known to possess a powerful antioxidant chemical known as resveratrol.  This can actually help improve heart health—when consumed in a responsible way.  But a new study suggests that there may actually be health benefits to consuming any type of alcohol if you are older than 50.

This remarkable new study suggests that while there are certainly some health risks associated with drinking alcohol, we might have underestimated how the benefits could undermine those risks.  For example, many modern studies indicate that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol may have health benefits for adults, these studies tend to involve people over the age of 50.  Effectively, these studies were not able to study people who died from alcohol-related causes before the age of 50.  

As a matter of fact, the study found that more than 40 percent of overall deaths from alcohol actually occur before the age of 50. This suggests, then, that most current studies underestimate the overall risk of alcohol consumption compared with what we might find if we could observe effects across the entire age spectrum. 

Taking this as a starting point, then, the researchers set out to learn more about the particular health effects, benefits, and risks associated with alcohol at younger ages.  This research, then, showed that age was a much bigger factor in deaths prevented by alcohol.  In reality, nearly 36 percent of all alcohol-related deaths occurred in people between the ages of 20 and 49.  In contrast, deaths that were determined to have been prevented by alcohol consumption was only 4.5 percent in this age group.  

On the other hand, those 65 and older showed a relative 35 percent mortality rate for alcohol-related death while deaths prevented by alcohol jumped up to 80 percent in the older group. 

At the end of the day this particular study does not necessarily suggest that young people are more likely to die from alcohol consumption. What it does show, however, is that, alcohol appears to have more benefit to older people than to younger people; and more research is needed to determine a risk-benefit ratio. 

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