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Moderate Alcohol Consumption May Protect Against Disabilities
Date:1/22/2009

Study found healthy older adults were better able to carry out daily tasks

THURSDAY, Jan. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Healthy people 50 and older who drink alcohol moderately are less likely to suffer physical disabilities that cause so many seniors to lose their independence, a new study says.

The study authors said their research showed that healthy older adults who were light-to-moderate drinkers had 25 percent lower odds of being unable to carry out daily activities such as walking, dressing, eating, running errands or doing chores.

Conversely, heavy drinkers and abstainers had higher risks of disabilities that would limit such activities.

"What it's really telling light-to-moderate drinkers is don't worry, you're probably in good company, and you're probably going to get good benefits from this," said lead researcher Dr. Arun S. Karlamangla, an associate professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.

But, the study should also serve as a warning to older adults who aren't in good health, Karlamangla added. For the participants who reported that their overall health was fair or worse, alcohol offered no benefit at all.

"If you're health is not good, you probably should not be drinking," he said.

Study co-author Dr. Alison A. Moore, an associate professor of medicine in the geriatrics division at the David Geffen School of Medicine, said there were two possible reasons why the unhealthy didn't benefit. Alcohol may have negatively interacted with their medications, or their health may have been so poor it wasn't reversible, she said.

The researchers defined light-to-moderate drinking as less than 15 drinks a week with a daily maximum of five for men and four for women. Moore said the study included the number of drinks a day to eliminate people who binge drink. The daily consumption may be part of the protective mechani
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