Among 13,894 women in the Nurses’ Health Study, investigators prospectively examined alcohol use assessed at midlife in relation to “successful ageing,” which was defined as survival to age 70 years, not having a major chronic disease (such as coronary disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes), and having no major cognitive impairment, physical impairment, or mental health problems. Only 11% of the women met these criteria.
The results indicate that moderate drinkers, especially those consuming wine and drinking regularly, were more likely to exhibit successful ageing. For average amount consumed, the largest benefit (an increase of 28%) was among women who reported 15.1 – 30 g of alcohol per day (an average of just over 1 to 2 ½ drinks per day), when compared with non-drinkers. The frequency of drinking was especially important: in comparison with nondrinkers, women who drank only on 1 to 2 days per week had little increase in their risk of successful ageing, but those drinking on at least 5 days per week had almost a 50% greater chance of successful ageing.
Forum reviewers had some questions about the definition of “successful ageing” used in this study. It is believed that a much greater percentage of people who may not meet these criteria make huge contributions to society and should be considered “successful.”
In summary, these results support the findings of earlier studies showing that many aspects of successful ageing, in addition to just survival, are favorably affected by regular, moderate consumption of alcohol.