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Alcohol May Help Seniors Avoid Disability

New research suggests that light-to-moderate alcohol consumption may help to stave off the development of physical disabilities.

New research suggests that light-to-moderate alcohol consumption may help to stave off the development of physical disabilities.

It’s been known for some time that moderate alcohol consumption can be good for you—for example, drinking a couple of glasses of wine can boost heart health. Results of a new study by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, however, suggest that seniors who are in good health can help themselves to remain so by enjoying the occasional tipple. 

Dr. Arun Karlamangla and colleagues studied data of 4,276 men and women with a mean age of 60.4 years. At the start of the survey, 32 percent of men and 51 percent of women did not drink alcohol (defined as drinking fewer than 12 drinks per year), 51 percent of men and 45 percent of women were light-to-moderate drinkers (defined as drinking fewer than 15 drinks per week), and 17 percent of men and 4 percent women were heavy drinkers (defined as drinking more than 15 drinks per week). No participants had any disabilities at the start of the study.

At follow-up five years later, 7 percent of participants had died and 15 percent had become physically disabled, meaning that they had trouble performing or were unable to perform normal activities of daily living, such as walking, dressing and eating. After taking into account risk factors for disability, such as age, smoking, exercise and heart attack and stroke history, the researchers found that seniors who rated their health as good or better—and who consumed light-to-moderate amounts of alcohol—had reduced their risk of physically disability by 3 to 8 percent for each additional drink per week. No benefit was seen in seniors who rated their health as fair or poor, nor in heavy drinkers. 

The authors concluded: “Light-to-moderate alcohol consumption appears to have disability-prevention benefits only in men and women in relatively good health. It is possible that those who report poor health have progressed too far on the pathway to disability to accrue benefits from alcohol consumption and that alcohol consumption may even be deleterious for them.” 

Volunteer Work Promotes Longevity

Voluntary work benefits the community, and research suggests that it also benefits volunteers and may even help to promote longevity.

Seniors who do regular voluntary work have lower rates of heart disease and live longer than seniors who don’t, according to the latest issue of Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource. As well as boosting mental health, voluntary work provides seniors with a social network and can also help to stave off depression. 

Studies have shown that 40 to 100 hours a year—just a couple of hours each week—of voluntary work is all that is needed in order to reap these health benefits. IM


Karlamangla, A.S., et al. (2009). Light-to-moderate alcohol consumption and disability: Variable benefits by health status. Am J Epidemiol. 169:96-104.

Volunteer: It’s good for you. (15 January 2009). Mayo Clinic


Editor’s note: For the latest information and research on health and aging, subscribe to the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine e-zine, free. at

Dr. Robert M. Goldman MD, PhD, DO, FAASP has spearheaded the development of numerous international medical organizations and corporations. Dr. Goldman has served as a Senior Fellow at the Lincoln Filene Center, Tufts University; as an Affiliate at the Philosophy of Education Research Center, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University, He is Clinical Consultant, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Korea Medical University; and Professor, Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Central America Health Sciences, Department of Internal Medicine. Dr. Goldman holds the positions of Visiting Professor, Udayana University School of Medicine, Indonesia; Visiting Professor, Huazhong University of Science & Technology Tong Ji Medical School, China; Visiting Professor, The Wuhan Institute of Science & Technology, China; Visiting Professor at Hainan Medical College, China; and Visiting Professor, School of Anti-Aging, Aesthetics and Regenerative Medicine, UCSI University, Malaysia. Dr. Goldman is a Fellow of the American Academy of Sports Physicians and a Board Diplomat in Sports Medicine and Board Certified in Anti-Aging Medicine. Dr. Goldman is a Fellow of the American Academy of Sports Physicians and a Board Diplomat in Sports Medicine and Board Certified in Anti-Aging Medicine. He has overseen cooperative research agreement development programs in conjunction with such prominent institutions as the American National Red Cross, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Defense, and the FDA’s Center for Devices & Radiological Health.

Dr Goldman was awarded the 2012 LifeTime Achievement Award in Medicine &Science. Dr. Goldman is the recipient of the ‘Gold Medal for Science, the Grand Prize for Medicine, the Humanitarian Award, and the Business Development Award. He received honors from Minister of Sports and government Health officials of numerous nations. In 2001, Excellency Juan Antonio Samaranch awarded Dr. Goldman the International Olympic Committee Tribute Diploma for contributions to the development of sport & Olympism.

In addition, Dr. Goldman is a black belt in karate, Chinese weapons expert, and world champion athlete with over 20 world strength records, he has been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. Some of his past performance records include 13,500 consecutive situps and 321 consecutive handstand pushups. Dr. Goldman was an All-College athlete in four sports, a three time winner of the John F. Kennedy (JFK) Physical Fitness Award, was voted Athlete of the Year, was the recipient of the Champions Award, and was inducted into the World Hall of Fame of Physical Fitness. Dr. Goldman was awarded the Healthy American Fitness Leader Award from the President’s Council on Physical Fitness & Sports and U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Dr. Goldman is Chairman of the International Medical Commission overseeing sports medicine committees in over 184 nations. He has served as a Special Advisor to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness & Sports. He is founder and international President Emeritis of the National Academy of Sports Medicine and the cofounder and Chairman of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M). Dr. Goldman visits an average of 20 countries annually to promote brain research and sports medicine programs.

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