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What are the effects of alcohol on aging?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Since alcohol has a high caloric content, heavy drinkers tend to carry around more paunch, which is a way that excessive drinking can age. And that fat doesn't just make you look older -- it actually makes you older. It is after all fat around your waist that secretes substances that increase inflammation and damage to your arteries and immune system. Also the impurities that are stored in the fat also increase your risk of cancer to that of someone five to ten years older. Finally, alcohol consumption impairs the absorption of crucial nutrients and vitamins, leading to nutrient deficiencies and even malnutrition. Alcohol consumption is associated with a decreased intake of thiamine, folate, iron, zinc, vitamin E, and vitamin C.

And there's almost no other way to make yourself older faster than in alcohol-related accidents -- in boats, automobiles, and other vehicles. Never, ever drink and drive. You put both yourself and others at risk. If you are out with friends, make sure to choose a designated driver or take a cab home. Also, operating a boat, swimming, skiing, or putting yourself in other potentially risky situations while drinking can cause rapid aging.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.