As we get older, we often believe that you can’t “teach an old dog new tricks.” However, new research from the American Heart Association suggests that those in their 50s and 60s should still do absolutely everything they can to break the cycle of alcoholism.
Current findings in two large international studies underline the fact that achieving sobriety, especially as we age, is a matter of life and death. Many people may consider a couple of glasses of liquor on a consistent basis to be acceptable but as we enter our 50s and 60s, a regular pattern of indulging may result in serious negative health consequences. In these new published documents, “heavy drinkers” are classified as consuming more than two alcoholic beverages daily.
Scientists followed 11,644 middle-aged twins for 43 years and carefully examined their alcohol patterns and the results were stunning. They found the following:
- Heavy drinkers in this age group had about a 34% higher risk of stroke compared to light drinkers.
- Heavy drinkers in their 50s and 60s were likely to have a stroke five years earlier despite any genetic and early-life factors.
- Excessive drinking in middle age is a greater contributor to strokes than basic risk factors (i.e. diabetes and high blood pressure)
The authors concluded that “For mid-aged adults, avoiding more than two drinks a day could be a way to prevent [a] stroke...” In addition, new research specifies that utilizing alcohol on a daily basis in midlife years is a dangerous pattern of behavior that can be fatal for liver function.
Current data tracking 55,000 individuals ages 50-64 also reveals that “an alcohol drinking pattern of daily consumption has a significant influence on the risk of cirrhosis.” Analysis by the authors determined that “recent alcohol consumption, and not lifetime alcohol consumption, is the strongest predictor of alcoholic cirrhosis.” Cirrhosis of the liver is irreversible and is the final phase of chronic liver disease.
None of us wants to become a burden to family, friends or society as we age. These latest findings are a cautionary tale as to how alcoholism affects the body in our 50s and 60s.
The statistics from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) are disturbing and often preventable:
- Every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States suffer a stroke
- On average, one American dies from stroke every 4 minutes
- Stroke is a main cause of serious long-term disability
- Cirrhosis of the liver leads to over 36,000 deaths annually
More research is certainly needed but the implications are evident. Both of these leading-edge studies strongly encourage sobriety, even in later years, to reduce the risk of debilitating health problems that can easily lead to death.