Friday, May 01, 2009

Half a glass of wine a day 'can help you live five years longer'

We're on the merrygoround again. But HALF a glass?? It's the usual nonsense anyway. Holland is a beer-drinking country. Wine drinking is more middle class and middle class people live longer anyway

Half a glass of wine a day can add almost five years to your life, say scientists. A study of almost 1,400 middle-aged men over a 40-year period found regularly drinking a little of any type of alcohol boosted longevity. The biggest increase was seen in those who drank half a glass of wine a day [Who were those weirdos?], who tended to live about four-and-a-half years longer than those who abstained from alcohol. But those who drank up to two glasses of wine, two pints of beer or two shots of spirits a day also tended to live about two years longer than non-drinkers.

The researchers from Wageningen University in the Netherlands analysed 1,373 Dutch men born between 1900 and 1920. Drinking, smoking and dietary habits were noted along with body mass index and prevalence of heart attack, stroke, diabetes and cancer. The study found wine was strongly associated with a lower risk of death from all causes, including stroke and heart disease, over the period of the study, which ended in 2000.

The university’s human nutritionist Dr Martinette Streppel said: 'Those people who already consume alcoholic beverages should do so lightly - one to two glasses per day - and preferably drink wine. 'The cardio-protective effects of alcohol and wine only held up for light alcohol consumption in middle-aged men. 'Heavy alcohol consumption may cause accidents and diseases such as cancer and cirrhosis of the liver, even though this was not observed in our study. 'Since alcohol consumption can be addictive, starting to drink alcohol because of its positive health benefits is not advised.'

The researchers found alcohol intake of less than or equal to 20 grams per day - one glass of alcoholic beverage contains 10 grams of alcohol - compared to no alcohol intake was associated with a 36 percent lower risk of death from all causes.

When the researchers looked independently at wine consumption, the associated risk reduction was greater. Participants who drank an average of half a glass of wine a day over a long period had a 40 percent overall lower mortality rate and a 48 percent lower incidence of cardiovascular death compared to the non-wine drinkers. Life expectancy was 3.8 years higher in those men who drank wine compared to those who did not drink alcoholic beverages.

Dr Streppel said: 'Consumption patterns usually change during life. This enabled us to study the effects of long-term alcohol intake on mortality.' The researchers found the number of alcohol users nearly doubled from 45 percent in 1960 to 85 percent in the 2000 survey. The percentage of wine users increased during follow-up from two percent in 1960 to more than 40 percent among the survivors in 2000.

Dr Streppel said a protective effect of light alcohol intake could be due to an increase in 'good' cholesterol, or to a reduction in blood clotting. Furthermore, red wine consumption may have an additional health benefit because the polyphenolic compounds contained in wine have been seen in animals to stop the build up of fatty tissue in the arteries that can result in stroke or heart attack.

Dr Streppel said: 'Our study showed long-term, light alcohol intake among middle-aged men was associated not only with lower cardiovascular and all-cause death risk, but also with longer life expectancy at age fifty. 'Furthermore, long-term light wine consumption is associated with a further protective effect when compared to that of light-to-moderate alcohol intake of other types.


Daily aspirin in your forties 'can cut risk of cancer later in life'

Looks like aspirin is back in the good books too. We were told recently that it must not be given to teenagers! Odd that it's good for one age-group but not another!

Taking an aspirin a day in your forties can cut the chances of developing cancer later in life, according to experts. Those who take the cheap painkiller for 10 years can reduce the risks of suffering from breast and bowel cancer, two of the most common forms of the disease. Prof Jack Cuzick, from Cancer Research UK, said that taking the drugs in middle age would "maximise" the benefits when patients were in their sixties, when many cancers develop.

Taking aspirin in your mid-forties could be the "best time" to stop the disease progressing into full-blown cancer, he said. The drug could already be protecting hundreds of thousands of people who currently regularly take it to prevent a heart attack or stroke. Scientists believe that it works by blocking the effects of proteins in the body linked to inflammation and found in abundance in some types of cancer.

Previous studies have shown that people who take aspirin are less likely to develop breast and bowel cancer, which together affect more than 81,000 people in Britain every year. Cancer Research UK is also investigating whether the drug could be used to prevent gullet cancer.

But Prof Cuzick warned that scientists needed to identify those at high risk of suffering side effects, which can include bleeding in the stomach and ulcers, before doctors could advise regular use of aspirin to prevent cancer. Recent studies have suggested that taking the medication in combination with other drugs, called proton pump inhibitors, could help to lower the risk of stomach bleeding.

Dr Lesley Walker, Cancer Research UK's director of cancer information, said: "We need scientists to focus their efforts on how to reduce the side effects of taking aspirin so that very soon it may be possible to use the drug as a way of preventing cancer. "It's too soon to recommend that people take aspirin to try and stop cancer developing because of the side effects. But survival is low for cancers like gullet cancer so understanding how to prevent the disease is crucial."

Prof Cuzick, from the Cancer Research UK Centre for Epidemiology at Queen Mary, University of London, analysed all the available scientific evidence on the benefits of aspirin in preventing cancer for the review, published in the journal Lancet Oncology. "Taking aspirin regularly in your mid 40s could maximise the effect this drug has on preventing cancer," he said. "Taking aspirin at this age, which is about the time pre-cancerous lesions usually begin to develop, may be the best time to stop the disease from progressing to actual cancer. "And, as the risk of serious side effects of aspirin greatly increase after 60 years old, taking long-term treatment before this age will help to minimise these side effects."

Further research is also needed to uncover whether the so-called "baby aspirin" dose of 80mg a day can offer the protection or if the full standard 300mg dose is needed, he added.

Previous studies have suggested that an aspirin a day can help to prevent liver damage and could be used as a treatment for osteoporosis, or brittle bone disease. A daily aspirin is recommended to prevent heart attacks in people at high risk of suffering one.

However, doctors have warned that healthy people should not routinely take the drug. Dr Sarah Rawlings, from Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: "The potential of anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin to prevent some forms of cancer, including breast cancer, is very interesting. However, further research is needed before we can say whether the benefits of using such drugs to prevent cancer outweigh the risks."


1 comment:

John A said...

Alcohol : via *An Englishman's Castle* we read from the Times:
"Professor Ian Gilmore (letter, April 27) tells us that all but one liver-ward patients with alcohol-related liver problems were daily or very frequent drinkers, and deduces that 'Middle England' drinkers are ending up on liver wards by regularly consuming what some might consider to be moderate levels of alcohol."

Uh-huh. And oxygen can kill (ask a doctor how long you would survive in an oxygen-only atmosphere) so we should stop breathing - and certainly get rid of those oxygen tamks in hospitals!