We’ve read a lot about the harmful effects of alcohol but a recent study has examined the health impact of drinking alcohol at different stages. The researchers conclude that alcohol may be less risky for people over the age of 50.
Heavy drinking has been linked with health conditions like heart and liver disease, high blood pressure, certain cancers and damage to the nervous system.
However, studies have shown that drinking moderately might have some health benefits. Several studies have concluded that moderate or low-level alcohol could have a protective effect.
For example, a study found that low and moderate drinking protected against mortality related to cardiovascular disease and against all-cause mortality. Although this has been widely read and well-received, not all researchers agree. So it’s still being debated.
In a recent study carried out by Dr. Timothy Naimi, of the Boston Medical Center in Massachusetts, the authors aimed at the methodology used in some of the earlier studies. So the authors published their findings too.
A fresh approach to research on alcohol
The researchers argued that the method used by earlier studies to measure the impact of alcohol on health might be wrong. Specifically, researchers found that earlier studies are generally observational because they usually use participants who are above the age of 50.
The authors argued that the approach of earlier studies is problematic because people who might have died because of alcohol before the age of 50 are excluded.
Dr, Naimi states, “Those who are established drinkers at age 50 are ‘survivors’ of their alcohol consumption who initially might have been healthier or have had safer drinking patterns.”
Authors found that almost 40% of deaths related to alcohol consumption happen before the age of 50. It means that the majority of research into possible risks posed by alcohol don’t take these deaths into account and could underestimate the main dangers.
The difference in age
Based on the analysis, the level of an individual’s alcohol-related risk was highly influenced by their age.
35.8% of alcohol-related deaths occurred in people between the age of 20 and 49. When examining the death prevented by alcohol consumption, the scientist discovered just 4.5% in this age group.
It was really different when scientists looked at individuals aged 65 or above. Although a similar 35% of alcohol-related death occurred in this group, 80% of the deaths prevented by alcohol was discovered in this group.
The researchers also found a stark difference between the age groups when they looked at the number of potential years lost to alcohol.
They found that 58.4% of the total number of years lost happened in people age 20 to 49. However, this same age group accounted for only 14.5% of years of life saved by drinking.
Conversely, the group of people over-65 accounted for 15% of the overall years of life lost, while also accounting for 50% of the years of life saved.
The authors conclude that people who are young are more likely to die from alcohol consumption than from a lack of drinking, but older people are more likely to enjoy the health benefits of drinking moderately.
The bottom line
Although the conclusions of the authors are not explosive, they make us understand the health impact of alcohol more. Moderate drinking may benefit people of a certain age group, but drinking heavily is harmful to all.