Moderate Drinking among Older Women: Health Effects

This study examined the health effects of moderate drinking among older women. It also looked at the effects of smoking on health.


I.   The Study

II.  Findings

III. Health Tips

IV.  Resources

I. The Study

Researchers wanted to learn if the health effects of drinking moderately persisted into old age among women. They also looked at smoking tobacco.  To do so, they examined alcohol consumption, smoking, and measures of health (including the death rate).  The participants were 9,704 women age 65 or older. The researchers then followed them up after 10 and 20 years.

II. Findings

How did moderate drinkers compare with never-drinkers? After both 10 and 20 years, moderate drinkers had

  • drinking among older womenLower death rates.
  • Better self-reported health.
  • Lower rates of living in a nursing home.
  • Less difficulty with activities of daily living.
  • Faster walking speed.
  • Greater grip strength.

How did smokers compare with non-smokers? That’s no surprise. Smokers had much poorer health and were much more likely to die.

In short, the researchers reported that drinking in moderation is good for health and longevity among older women. Not surprisingly, tobacco smoking is bad for health and long life.

The harmful results of smoking is well-known. Less well-known among the public is that moderate drinking benefits both health and longevity.

III. Health Tips

There are three major ways to improve health and reduce risk of diseases. TThey also increase the chances of having a long life. They’re simple, but some may be hard to achieve.

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Maintain proper weight and avoid obesity.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation. It can be beer, wine, and/or spirits (whisket, rum, tequila, vodka, etc).

Remember that beer, wine, and distilled spirits have the same health benefits. Spirits include vodka, whiskey, tequila, rum, gin, and similar beverages.

IV. Resources on Drinking among Older Women

Assn Women’s Health. Ob, Neonatal Nurs.  Cardiovascular Health for Women.  Primary Prevention. Washington: The Assn, 2003 (2nd ed).

Carlson, K., et al. The New Harvard Guide to Women’s Health. Cambridge: Harvard U Press, 2012.

Norsigian, J. Our Bodies, Ourselves. NY: Touchstone, 2011.

Olshansky, E., and Prevost, S. Women’s Health. Philadelphia: Saunders/Elsevier, 2009.

Thurston, W., et al. Rural Women’s Health. Toronto: U Toronto Press, 2012.

Source of Study. Nelson H, Lui L, Ensrud K, Cummings S, Cauley JA Hillier T. Associations of Smoking, Moderate Alcohol Use, and Function. A 20-Year Cohort Study of Older Women. . Gerontol & Geri Med, 2018, 4, 1–9.

Important Note. Remember that nothing on this site is a suggestion or recommendation. Consult a physician for medical help.