There has been lots of controversy back and forth about the effects of alcohol on the aging process.
Little longitudinal research has been done to examine patterns of alcohol consumption and cognitive decline in elderly persons. Two studies reported at an Alzheimer’s conference in Vancouver suggest that moderate alcohol use in later life, heavier use in earlier life and binge drinking in later life have a negative effect on cognition, yet some studies suggest that small amounts of alcohol can have a preventative effect on both cardiovascular systems and cognition in some persons.
What researchers do seem to agree on, is that as people age they metabolize alcohol differently than they did when they were younger. Smaller amounts of alcohol have a bigger effect for a number of reasons.
Firstly, alcohol interacts with medications, sometimes with severe effects, and older people often take a number of medications.
Also, the liver and kidneys have a harder time with it because the activity of the enzymes needed for the body to metabolize alcohol diminishes.
Also, elderly people are more likely to suffer from other types of conditions, such as liver and kidney disease, that may be worsened by ingesting alcohol.
Binge drinking, such as when a person who is typically a non-drinker has a number of drinks on one occasion, carries risks of particularly harmful effects to the cardiovascular system and the brain. A British study found that binge drinking even twice a month was associated with a decline in memory and cognitive functioning. The safe drinking guidelines for adults proposed by the Addiction Research Foundation are: 10 drinks per week for women and no more than two per day, 15 drinks per week for men and no more than three per day. One drink would be 12 oz. beer, 5 oz. wine or 1.5 oz. of 40 per cent distilled alcohol. When someone is over 70 years of age, they should probably stay on the smaller side of these guidelines. When over 80, even less is advisable.
Red wine has elements that are positive for your cardiac health in small quantities. It is always advisable to discuss your alcohol usage with your family doctor and follow their guidelines as they are more aware of how your medications and your personal health condition may interact with alcohol.