In their pursuit of living as long as they can, people seem to have tried everything they can find: from exotic yoga practices to following weird diets. Now researchers say that drinking a glass of wine daily seems to contribute to longevity even more than exercising.
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Such things as regular exercising, eating healthy food and avoiding stress have long been associated with longevity. However, the way alcohol affects human health is regarded as a controversial issue: while some evidence suggests it can help reduce blood pressure if consumed in moderation, other studies highlight the dangers of indulging in alcoholic beverages. Now the camp of researchers advocating for regular, moderate consumption of some alcoholic drinks have got another study to support their view.
A team from the University of California has been carrying out a study, which was aimed at finding out what can help people live up to the age of 90 and more, for fifteen years. In 2003, they launched a project called The 90+ Study. The investigators have been following a cohort of nonagenarians and trying to find correlations between their health and lifestyles. A total of about 1,600 volunteers took part in the project.
The researchers visited the seniors every 6 month to assess the participants’ physical and mental health. The neuropsychological and neurological tests, as well as physical and cognitive tests, were aimed at determining how well the nonagenarians were functioning. The investigators also took account of the lifestyles the seniors led, including their activities, hobbies, medical history, eating patterns, medications, and other aspects of their life.
The researchers were surprised to find a correlation between longevity and drinking alcohol in moderation: daily consumption of one glass of wine or 2 glasses of beer (the research page also mentions coffee) was associated with being 18% less likely to die prematurely. The link was strongest among the factors considered by the investigators. It was followed by practicing a hobby for 2 hours a day or more, which seemed to reduce the risk of an early death by 21%. Regular exercising (15-45 minutes a day) came third in the list and got the result of 11%. Although the link is not very strong, being overweight but not obese seemed to cut the risk by 3%.
The other side of the coin
As far as other study findings are concerned, the rate of those suffering from dementia after age 90 appeared to be very high: more than 40% of the volunteers had the disease, and nearly 80% of the nonagenarians were disabled. Such high rates were seen regardless of gender. It is worthy of note that among those older than 90 and suffering from dementia the neuropathology found in their brains was not sufficient to account for their loss of cognitive function, and, conversely, those who had the APOE2 gene had neuropathology characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease more often, but were less likely to develop symptoms of the disease.
As seen from the statistics above, living longer often comes at a price: people have found ways to add more years, but most of these added years are “labor and sorrow” (Ps 90:10). The researchers noted that while people have added more years than they have added quality, they still consider the association between moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages and longevity to be strong. So next time you want to drink a glass of wine while having dinner with your family, don’t forget it can be a good idea!
Just remember – one of the key words here is “moderate”: if a glass of wine is beneficial for health, it does not mean a bottle is ten times more beneficial!
The 90+ Study – Mind.uci.edu
Science Begins to Unlock the Secrets of Brains that Age Well – Aaas.org