Older women benefit from moderate alcohol

Dec. 14, 2006 at 2:27 PM
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NEWCASTLE, Australia, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Moderate alcohol intake may lead to increased quality of life and survival in older women, finds an Australian study.

The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health followed nearly 12,000 women in their 70s over a six-year period. Julie Ellen Byles of the University of Newcastle found that non-drinkers and women who rarely drank had a significantly higher risk of dying during the survey period than did women who drank moderately -- one to two drinks a day, three to six days a week.

Of those who survived, the women who drank the least reported the lowest health-related quality of life. Previous studies have shown that women who have at least one drink per day stand at a lower risk for cardiovascular disease and ischemic stroke than non-drinkers.

"The results of this study indicate that moderate alcohol intake in keeping with current guidelines may carry some health benefits for older women," says Byles. "This contrasts previous studies which have suggested that moderate alcohol intake can be detrimental to older women and may lead to accidents, cancers, even dementia."

The study is published in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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