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Alcohol and Aging: Your Health





Research shows that drinking alcohol can contribute to chronic diseases, including cancer and some heart conditions.

Drinking can also make some health problems worse – for example, high blood pressure, memory loss, mood disorders like depression and anxiety, diabetes, digestive problems, loss of appetite, osteoporosis, and stroke.

Women need to be especially careful about consuming alcohol, because they tend to be more at risk of alcohol-related health problems, including liver damage. Women are always advised to drink less than men because they produce less of  the alcohol-digesting enzyme than men, have less water in their bodies to dilute the alcohol then men and generally tend to weigh less.

Chronic heavy use, as well as occasional excessive use of alcohol, can harm your health. If you have been drinking heavily all your life, you are at risk for increased blood pressure, damage to the lining of your stomach, inflammation or scarring of the liver, and heart damage. Heavy drinking has also been linked to several cancers, including esophagus, breast, liver, and colon cancer.

Tip: Even cutting back a little can reduce your risk of many illnesses and health problems.

Alcohol and Medication: A Dangerous Mix

Adverse reactions can occur when mixing alcohol with medication. Many prescription medications taken by older people can interact negatively with even small amounts of alcohol. Mixing alcohol with over-the-counter drugs can also be dangerous. For example, drinking when you’re taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) can cause liver damage.

Alcohol can reduce or neutralize the effectiveness of both over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Some drugs also intensify the sedative effects of alcohol, and may make you feel unusually drowsy or uncoordinated after only one or two drinks. If you’re on medication and think you might drink alcohol, talk to your doctor or pharmacist first.

Alcohol and Your Weight

Many Canadians are overweight. Excess weight is linked to numerous health problems, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, and some forms of cancer.

If you’re concerned about your weight, consider the extra calories you’re adding to your diet with each alcoholic drink.

Calorie content of some common alcoholic beverages:

  Serving Size Calories
Regular Beer (5% alcohol) 355 ml /12 oz 153
Light Beer (4% alcohol) 355 ml / 12 oz 103
Red Wine (11.5 % alcohol) 150 ml / 5 oz 127
White Wine (11.5 % alcohol) 150 ml / 5 oz 123
Distilled Spirits (40% alcohol) 45 ml / 1.5 oz 97
Last Updated: March 3, 2013