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Health Impact of Consuming Alcohol at Different Ages

After analyzing the health implications of alcohol consumption on varied age groups a recently conducted study concluded that adults in the age group of 50 and above may see less severe health consequences compared to adults below the same age group. The objective of the study was neither to justify nor glorify drinking, but to study the impact of drinking on various ages. The fact still remains that people who drink heavily are susceptible to a variety of serious short- and long-term health issues.

Some of the common health problems pertaining to heavy alcohol consumption include liver and heart ailments, cancers, and damage to the nervous system and brain. From time to time, various health and wellness articles have highlighted the fact that if an individual drank in moderation, it can have certain health benefits. To corroborate this fact, several studies have suggested that drinking alcohol within a medically permissible limit may have a positive bearing on an individual's health. For instance, one of the studies revealed that moderate to light drinking can bring down the mortality rate caused due to cardiovascular ailments.

Having said that, while these studies have been widely read and received well by people, not all researchers stand by it and the debate still continues on the same.

A fresh perspective

Dr. Timothy Naimi of the Boston Medical Center in Massachusetts carried out this study, adding fuel to the ongoing debate on the health impacts of consuming alcohol. Dr. Naimi and his group of researchers analyzed the methodology that was utilized in the previous studies and found that the manner in which the previous researchers measured the impact of alcohol on health may be flawed. The researchers highlighted the fact that the previous studies were based on more general observations and they usually enrolled participants over the age of 50. Usually, the deaths attributed to alcohol consumption occurred within the age group of 20 to 49. Simply put, "one cannot include dead people in a cohort study, "said Dr. Niami.

The team highlighted that around 40 percent of alcohol-related deaths took place before the age of 50. This made it quite obvious that the earlier researchers did not take into consideration these people and may have thus underestimated the real risks pertaining to alcohol consumption. Incidentally, Dr. Naimi was one of the first researchers to raise the concern about this bias in terms of participant age group and had published his findings in the journal Addiction in 2017.

Therefore, Dr. Naimi reinvestigated the matter and reanalyzed the data using the Alcohol-Related Disease Impact Application (ARDIA) software, maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The ARDIA is a reliable application that offered state and national estimates of alcohol-related health implications including potential years of life lost (PYLL) and deaths.

Influence of age factor

According to the study, the level of alcohol-related risk pertaining to an individual was largely influenced by the age factor. The data analysis revealed that around 35.8 percent of deaths caused due to alcohol consumption took place in the age group of 20 to 49. On the other hand, a mere 4.5 percent of fatalities were averted due to consumption of alcohol in this age group.

However, when the researchers looked at individuals in the age group of 65 and above, the statistics were slightly different. In this group, around 35 percent alcohol-related deaths were recorded, but it also depicted a whopping 80 percent of deaths averted by alcohol.

However, as stated earlier, there is still an ongoing debate regarding the impact of consuming alcohol in varied age groups.

Seeking help for alcoholism

Irrespective of gender, age, or social standing, anyone can be affected by alcoholism. One of the stepping stones for effective recovery from alcohol addiction is detoxification. The detoxification process helps purge all toxins accumulated in the body owing to years of alcohol consumption and prepares the body and the mind for the ensuing treatment.

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