One alcoholic drink a day makes you live longer: Scientists find drinkers are 40 per cent more likely to reach 90
Age-extending effects were confined to those who stuck to one drink a day
The study found that binge-drinkers died earlier than those who abstained
One spirit a day was found to help men and women benefited from wine
Source: Daily Mail
By PAT HAGAN
22 February 2020
Enjoying your favourite tipple every day could boost your chances of living to 90, scientists have discovered.
They found men and women who enjoyed a daily drink were up to 40 per cent more likely to make it to their 90th birthday than those who were teetotal, or rarely touched booze.
The age-extending effects were confined to those who stuck to one drink a day – binge drinkers died earlier.
And while women seem to live longer when they drink wine, for men the greatest benefit is from spirits like whisky, brandy or gin.
The study, by a team of researchers at Maastricht University Medical Centre in The Netherlands, suggests enjoying alcohol in moderation may be better for a long life than not drinking at all.
Some previous studies have found similar advantages but others have ruled out any impact on longevity.
The Dutch team tracked more than 5,000 men and women, most of whom were born during World War 1 of 1914-18.
When they were in their sixties and seventies, the volunteers were quizzed on their drinking habits before researchers then monitored them to see how many made it to 90.
The results, published in the journal Age and Ageing, showed 34 per cent of the women and 16 per cent of the men survived to that age.
But when they compared daily drinkers with abstainers, they found men and women downing five to 10g of alcohol a day were 40 per cent more likely to become a nonagenarian.
Ten grammes of alcohol is roughly equivalent to a small glass of wine, a pub measure of a spirit or half a pint of beer.
Drinking up to 15g a day improved volunteers’ chances of reaching 90 by a slightly smaller amount.
Any more than 15g and the benefits disappeared as larger daily intakes of alcohol led to premature death.
UK government guidelines recommend men and women drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week – equivalent to a daily tipple of two small brandies, a pint of medium strength lager or one 175ml glass of average strength wine of around 12 per cent.
In a report on the findings, researcher Dr Piet A. van den Brandt said: ‘We found alcohol intake was positively associated with the probability of reaching 90 years of age in both men and women.
‘Wine was associated with women reaching 90 but not with men. Instead, intake of gin, brandy and whisky increased their longevity.’
Researchers said it’s not clear why small daily amounts of alcohol add years to our lives.
But one possible explanation is a scientific phenomenon called hormesis – where something is potentially beneficial in small doses but highly toxic and dangerous in large doses.
However, they warned alcohol can interfere with prescription medications taken by most older people and although their findings showed drinkers live longer, it’s not necessarily the case that are healthier.
Dr van den Brandt said: ‘This should not be used by anyone who does not currently drink alcohol as motivation to start drinking.’
In 2018, there were 584,024 people aged 90 and over in the UK – up from 579,776 in 2017.
Lucy Holmes, director of research and policy at Alcohol Change UK, said: ‘This study shows again what all the evidence points to and what the UK’s top doctors tell us – the healthiest choice is to drink 14 units a week or less.
‘That’s a bottle and a half of wine, or six pints of normal strength lager, spread over three or more days. But if you don’t drink at the moment, this isn’t a reason to start.’