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Booze for wrinklies: Good or bad?

Pseudo-boffins wrangle over old-timers' drinking

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UK trick-cyclists and American "exercise psychologists" took up diametrically opposed views today on the issue of whether old people should be allowed to drink booze.

Leading the British media was a new report (pdf here) from the Royal College of Psychiatrists' Older People’s Substance Misuse Working Group, which asserts that the nation's old-timers have their back teeth awash to a perilous degree, and demands that the government issue a new and tougher recommended daily alcohol limit for the silver drinker.

“The traditional view is that alcohol misuse is uncommon in older people," says report author psychiatrist Ilana Crome. "However, this is simply not true. A lack of awareness means that GPs and other healthcare professionals often overlook or discount the signs when someone has a problem. We hope this report highlights the scale of the problem, and that the multiple medical and social needs of this group of people are not ignored any longer.”

The trick-cyclists would like to retirement-age people limited to an upper safe limit for older men of 1.5 units per day or 11 units per week, and for women 1 unit per day or 7 units per week. This equates to one modern-sized glassful of wine per day for the men and a dirty glass for the ladies.

But this severe crackdown on drinking of wine by old folks might actually be highly medically unwise.

In the States, a group of physiology types has conducted a study-of-studies into the effects of the miracle chemical resveratrol among older people.

Resveratrol, as many Reg readers will know, is a chemical which most people get mainly from their red wine drinking. It is thought to offer many health benefits: low rates of heart disease in France - the French being famously thirsty for their vin rouge - are ascribed to it. Recent research has indicated that if one could manage to down eight bottles, even ordinary people without experience in the heavyweight boxing ring would be able to sustain a punch in the head from Mike Tyson with no ill effects.

The study-study in America, just published in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, suggests that Blighty would be foolish indeed to limit our oldsters' intake of booze - of red wine, anyway.

"We're all looking for an anti-aging cure in a pill, but it doesn't exist. But what does exist shows promise of lessening many of the scourges and infirmities of old age," says exercise psychologist Heather Hausenblas, one of the study authors.

Hausenblas is now carrying out further studies to back up this research. ®

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