Surprising Ways Alcohol Speeds up the Aging Process

While limited research has investigated the impact of alcohol on worsening Alzheimer’s disease, epidemiological studies have suggested that alcohol use disorder may increase the overall risk of developing dementia. Increased Sensitivity to Alcohol
Aging can lower the body’s tolerance for alcohol. Older adults generally experience the effects of alcohol more quickly than when they were younger. This puts older adults at higher risks for falls, car crashes, and other unintentional injuries that may result from drinking.

However, many super-agers — people who live well beyond 100 years old, and often appear resistant to the dementia gene — report drinking alcohol now and then. Another reason to limit your alcohol intake is that it’s one of the main culprits for those extra pounds you’ve mysteriously put on. Not only are boozy drinks often empty calories with little to no nutrients, but alcohol can cause people to eat more food. If heavy drinking is a regular thing, you could face some potentially irreversible skin damage. “Since many of us will experience bone breakdown at a faster rate than bone formation when we get older, having weaker bones thanks to drinking habits can exacerbate one of the downsides of the aging process,” says Manaker. Sometimes this is a result of major life changes, such as the death of a spouse or other loved one, moving to a new home, or failing health.

This was one of the biggest studies ever, so scientists taught a computer to work out each person’s ‘brain age’

Over time, it also can damage the cerebellum, the area in your brain that handles balance and coordination. Alcohol may not only make you more likely to get sick as you age, it also can make common medical problems worse. Studies show that heavy drinkers can have a harder time with things like osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, ulcers, cancer, memory loss, and certain mood disorders. For people who want to determine whether their drinking habits qualify as a disorder, WHO created an alcohol use disorder identification test to help you determine quickly where you might fall on the spectrum. Certain health conditions can dictate how much alcohol, if any, is good for you. If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, taking certain medications, have certain health or mental conditions or are under the age of 21, you should not drink, according to the NIAAA.

Alcohol puts a strain on the liver as it’s the main organ that metabolizes alcohol and detoxifies your body from its negative effects. It’s also one of the body’s most essential organs with over 500 functions, like supporting your immune system, storing nutrition, and removing bacteria and waste. Mindful drinking supports your liver by helping it metabolize alcohol more efficiently, with less stress. This helps you avoid illnesses and keeps you feeling and looking vibrant, young, and healthy.

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The fermentation process produces ethanol, a clear liquid also known as grain alcohol or ethyl alcohol. The ethanol content of beer is about 5% while it ranges between 8% and 15% for wine. “The researchers also analyzed gene expression in the mice and found the mutant group with alcohol had some differences from the sober mutants,” Dr. Hunter added. These changes were not limited to neurons alone — supporting cells such as astrocytes, microglia, and endothelial cells also displayed altered gene expression patterns in response to alcohol exposure. The new study, from researchers at the University of Southern California, offers a more robust estimate, reached by examining 17,308 human brain scans from the UK Biobank — one of the biggest sample sizes ever seen.

does alcohol speed up aging

Finally, women also have lower levels of the enzyme that breaks down alcohol, dehydrogenase. The signs of premature aging pop up whenever we put our bodies in unhealthy situations for too long, and that includes drinking more does alcohol make you look older than our bodies can handle. HuffPost is your trusted source for stories that help you lead a better life. We’ve got you covered on all things health, wellness, food, style, parenting, relationships, work, travel and lifestyle.

Alcohol in the Aging Brain – The Interplay Between Alcohol Consumption, Cognitive Decline and the Cardiovascular System

The analysis revealed that moderate and occasional drinkers had lower death rates than abstainers. Meanwhile, a younger individual would typically have little trouble driving with a blood-alcohol level below the legal limit. People who drink may notice that they’re “feeling no pain” sooner as they get older. That’s mainly because our bodies gain fat and lose muscle in our senior years and it takes longer for us to break down alcohol and get it out of our system. As you get older, you have less water in your body and — for reasons that aren’t quite clear –you also feel thirsty less often.

  • “Alcohol impacts the efficacy of normal organ functioning, including the immune function of the blood cells,” says Morgyn Clair, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian and author at Fit Healthy Momma.
  • Read on to discover how quitting alcohol will help you feel — and look — your best.
  • The safest and most effective way to stop alcohol misuse is under the medical supervision of addiction professionals.
  • This can be the case because the side effects of drinking in older adults are mistaken for other conditions related to aging, for example, a problem with balance.
  • As you grow older, health problems or prescribed medicines may require that you drink less alcohol or avoid it completely.

It may not be as easy to recognize, but alcoholism in older adults is common. If you believe that you or a loved one has problems with alcohol, you can contact your family doctor and they can perform a substance abuse screening. However, many of the participants in these studies had a generally healthful lifestyle and adhered to a healthful Mediterranean diet, so it is hard to ascertain the precise role of alcohol in these results.