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She Who Drinks Moderately "Ages Successfully"

Older women are the latest focus of the never-ending moderate drinking debate.


Not recommended by Harvard Photo via

By Ariel Nagi


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The latest claim in the endless moderate drinking debate says women can make a toast to a longer, healthier life. New research from Harvard suggests that women who drink regularly are more like to experience "successful aging" than those who are occasional drinkers or don't drink at all. But what does "successful aging" entail? It's defined as freedom from heart disease and other major chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes, leading to major mental or physical impairment. The study followed about 14,000 mostly white women, beginning in 1976. Those who averaged three to 15 drinks per week in their late 50s were up to 28% more likely to be disease-free by the time they hit 70. But wait a second—this doesn't mean that non-drinking women should add booze to their diets. "If you are physically active, if you have a healthy body weight at midlife, you can have much better odds of achieving successful aging. You don't have to use moderate alcohol consumption as a way to help achieve healthy aging," Qi Sun, lead author of the study, told The study still comes as a surprise, though, since ironically women face higher risks of heart and liver disease, for example, if they drink too much. Women's drinking follows different patterns to men's, with different, generally more severe consequences. It's recommended that women who do drink consume no more than seven drinks per week and a maximum of three on any single day. And nobody's saying you can go far wrong by having none.

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