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What’s the Healthiest Drinking Age?

What’s the Healthiest Drinking Age?

Age is a major factor in determining deaths prevented by alcohol consumption.

In The Hangover (2008), Zach Galifianakis (Alan), Bradley Cooper (Phil) and Justin Bartha (Doug) prove the point that researchers from Boston University School of Medicine and colleagues made in a paper published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. Young people get the least health benefits from drinking alcohol.

A lot of info is out there about how consuming a moderate amount of any alcohol, including wine, helps reduce the risk of heart disease, maybe by remodeling your gut biome and boosting levels of heart-friendly omega-3 fatty acids. But these researchers point out that age is a major factor in determining deaths prevented by alcohol consumption—the ultimate benefit, no?

Almost 36 percent of total deaths caused by alcohol occurred in people 20 to 49-years-old. However, of the deaths determined to have been prevented by alcohol consumption, only 4.5 percent occurred in this younger age group. Eighty percent occurred in folks 65 and older. So, while moderation is essential at any age—younger folks should realize that they’re not gaining as many benefits as their Grammy is with a glass or two of wine. And one thing is certain, excessive drinking (daily or binging) can lead to addiction, damages your cells and can increase your risk for cancer.

Want benefits without alcohol? Grapes and berries—and almost any fruit and vegetable—help protect the heart and prevent some cancers and vision problems more than red wine. And many fruits and vegetables also deliver heart-loving fiber and other nutrients.

Medically reviewed in February 2018.

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