Theory about health and two-drink minimum debunked in new study

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It's last call for those who think two drinks a day can stave off functional decline in old age. New research suggests that it's lifestyle, not liquor, that really helps to determine how we age.

Over the course of a six-and-a-half-year study, researchers at the University of Ferrara, Italy, followed more than 3,000 seniors aged 70-79 to determine the relationship between alcohol intake and health outcomes. They discovered that, while initial results appeared to support the two-drink-a-day standard, lifestyle issues ultimately played a more important role. When statistical adjustments were made to account for lifestyle characteristics—being physical activity, body weight, education, income, etc–the relationship between moderate alcohol intake and reduced risk of functional decline diminished significantly.

There is still a strong correlation between moderate alcohol consumption and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, according to lead author Cinzia Maraldi, M.D., but when it comes to physical performance, the real determination is lifestyle. The report appears in the Oct 14 edition of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.