Alcohol Consumption Changes the Aging Clock < Yale School of Medicine

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July 13, 2020

In addition, alcohol dehydrates the body, meaning it draws moisture away from the skin cells, leading to dullness and sagging. When looking at how alcohol ages the skin, it becomes evident that drinking has the same effects as UV radiation from the sun’s rays. This means that prolonged exposure time, or how long you are exposed to the effects, will accelerate skin aging. Just like with too much sun exposure, too much alcohol intake also encourages wrinkles and fine lines which can make someone appear much older than he or she is.

Aging might seem complicated, but as you drink aged spirits, you’ll notice some patterns, due to aging limits and also just prime ages for certain spirits. Cognac has to be aged a minimum two years but may be aged as many as eight years and (well) beyond. Tequilas vary, with blancos bottled after distillation, reposados aged two months to a year, and anejos aged at least a year (though since 2006, they can be “ultra-aged” for 3 years in smaller casks for richer flavor). With wine or beer, aging properly is about the mastery of these elements. The results, published this week in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, also suggest that consuming low amounts of alcohol does not cause aging to accelerate. Rather, the damage seems to begin after a surprisingly high amount is consumed.

What Is Mindful Drinking? Setting New Intentions Around Alcohol

In addition, drinks within the same beverage category, such as beer, can contain different percentages of alcohol. It’s important to read the label to understand and be aware of how much you’re actually drinking. Drinking too much at one time or on any given day, or having too many drinks over the course of a week, increases the risk of harmful consequences, including injuries and health problems. People who consistently misuse alcohol over time are also at greater risk of developing alcohol use disorder.

  • Without being able to enjoy deep sleep, which is known to restore health, a person will look and feel much older than his or her actual age.
  • Vitamin A depletion can reduce levels of collagen, which can result in premature wrinkles as well as a loss of elasticity and fullness in the face.
  • This is because ethanol competes with water for absorption into the cells, and when there is more ethanol present, less water is available to the cells.
  • Also, it may worsen pre-existing conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure.
  • “Our results highlight the negative impact of excessive alcohol consumption, such as binge drinking, on biological aging,” Nannini said.
  • Eventually they are so degraded that the cell dies as it can no longer divide.

Studies have linked shorter telomeres to diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cancer and cardiovascular disease, which become more prevalent in people as they age. Some studies have suggested that telomere length could even be a better predictor of lifespan than chronological age. If you’re blessed with genetics that resists wrinkles and other visible signs of aging, you might not notice does alcohol make you look older the way that alcohol affects your appearance. Obviously, the smartest way to prevent aging from alcohol consumption is by lowering daily intake. However, when a person has a preoccupation with alcohol, he or she may lose control and have the inability to stop. This person may develop a tolerance, which means that he or she must drink more and more to get the same pleasing effects.

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In addition, alcohol misuse or alcohol use disorder can strain relationships with family members, friends, and others. At the extreme, heavy drinking can contribute to domestic violence and child abuse or neglect. Alcohol use is often involved when people become violent, as well as when they are violently attacked. If you feel that alcohol is endangering you or someone else, call 911 or obtain similar help right away. Alcohol can affect the way your body fights off life-threatening illnesses like tuberculosis or pneumonia.

Alcohol and the Aging Process

(A drink is one 12-ounce can or bottle of beer, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or one 1.5-ounce shot of an 80-proof or less liquor.) Talk with your doctor to find out what’s right for you. In short, alcohol use can result in various bodily disturbances and conditions that will ultimately cause a person to age faster. The longer a person uses alcohol, the more significant the impact will be. Sugar is a sneaky ingredient, hiding in many of our favorite foods and drinks, including alcohol. The main component of alcohol is carbohydrates, and glucose (blood sugar) just happens to be the main building block of carbs.

What Happens If You Don’t Drink Enough Water

One night of heavy drinking can make your wrinkles more evident. While that consequence is temporary, if it continues, it could have lasting effects. Several factors combine to make drinking — even at normal levels — an increasingly risky behavior as you age.

Some distilleries have their own cooperage to make their barrels while others use the services of a business dedicated to building barrels. Alcohol is a factor in about 30% of suicides and fatal motor vehicle crashes, 40% of fatal burn injuries, 50% of fatal drownings and homicides, and 65% of fatal falls. People should not drink alcohol if they plan to drive, use machinery, or perform other activities that require attention, skill, or coordination. Many medicines — prescription, over the counter, or herbal remedies — can be dangerous or even deadly when mixed with alcohol.

Other Ways that Alcohol Impacts Aging

A nonlinear relationship between alcohol consumption and epigenetic age is very interesting. Understanding these “standard” drink sizes can make it easier to follow health guidelines. Another thing to keep in mind is that drinks may be stronger than you think they are if the actual serving sizes are larger than the standard sizes.

These kinds of changes can cause loneliness, boredom, anxiety, or depression. In fact, depression in older adults often aligns with drinking too much. As you grow older, health problems or prescribed medicines may require that you drink less alcohol or avoid it completely. You may also notice that your body’s reaction to alcohol is different than before. Some older people feel the effects of alcohol more strongly without increasing the amount they drink.

Broken bones from a stumble are a serious health issue for seniors. It’s because alcohol can affect your balance and sense of judgment. Over time, it also can damage the cerebellum, the area in your brain that handles balance and coordination. Alcohol may not only make you more likely to get sick as you age, it also can make common medical problems worse.

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