Alcohol Consumption Changes the Aging Clock < Yale School of Medicine

“Heavy alcohol drinking might change the aging clock before one develops medical disease. Five clocks derived from different tissues and different aging related factors show similar patterns. One novel clock that is built from DNA modifications in monocytes, which was developed by Xu’s group, shows the strongest association with alcohol consumption and epigenetic age. Monocytes play an important role in inflammation and aging process. Regular drinkers can trigger biological functions that make them age from the inside out. If you drink heavily or consistently, you could activate the aging process, putting you at risk of health conditions that typically affect older people. Every alcoholic drink goes “straight to your head,” or at least to your brain.

Some people have no trouble cutting back on their drinking. Alcohol problems can happen to people from all walks of life at any age, and, each year, millions of people seek help for alcohol problems.

The neuroimmune system – Where aging and excess alcohol intersect

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. This can make them more likely to have accidents such as falls, fractures, and car crashes.

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Several brief, practical screening tools for alcohol and agingism are available. Patients who abuse alcohol are immunosuppressed and, thus, are at increased risk of infection and poor outcomes. Aspiration pneumonia occurs with vomiting and a decreased level of consciousness during intoxication. Many older adults were exposed to tuberculosis during childhood, and physicians should remain vigilant for reactivated disease in older alcoholic patients. The possibility of concomitant human immunodeficiency virus infection should not be overlooked in older patients with atypical infections, particularly those who have a history of polysubstance abuse. The association seemed to only be significant for people drinking more than 17 units per week, suggesting that it takes at least a moderate level of alcohol consumption before the telomere damage kicks in.

Why Alcohol Is Sabotaging Your Anti-Aging Routine

The longer a person uses alcohol, the more significant the impact will be. Let’s explore the specific parts of the body that can age as a result of alcohol use. I’ve always been healthy and fit, and I kid myself that a little poison can’t hurt me. That’s probably true — in fact, a little can be beneficial to your cardiovascular system.

  • This increases the risk of falls, car crashes, and other accidents.
  • Adults aged 50 and over who consumed two units per day showed brain changes equivalent to two years of aging.
  • By the time a person uncovers a problem, it may be too late.
  • While that consequence is temporary, if it continues, it could have lasting effects.
  • It also affects the healthy functioning of your digestive system, making it harder for you to absorb essential nutrients.

If you or a loved one are struggling to stop alcohol use,contactThe Recovery Village. Using treatment programs tailored to each patient’s needs, treatment addresses addiction along with any co-occurring mental health disorders. Alcohol may also harm the skin by increasing the number of damaging chemicals in the body known as free radicals. Free radicals are linked to alcohol use and are also known to damage the skin and cause aging. Knowing how alcohol ages you, you don’t have to let drinking control your life.

Alcohol and the Aging Process

Older persons are particularly vulnerable to falls and conditions such as delirium. In short, alcohol use can result in various bodily disturbances and conditions that will ultimately cause a person to age faster.

  • Alcohol used with some sleeping pills, pain pills, or anxiety/anti-depression medicine can be deadly.
  • Doctors think that alcohol can quicken the body’s aging process in a few ways.
  • Delays from the time of diagnosis or detoxification to enrollment in a treatment program should be avoided.7 Substance abuse teams can facilitate this goal.
  • For example, alcohol use can cause the body to release excess amounts of stress hormones.
  • Sometimes this is a result of major life changes, such as the death of a spouse or other loved one, moving to a new home, or failing health.

Women have less ADH than men to start with, which is why they are less able than men to clear alcohol from the body. During the pandemic, 14 percent of older adults reported drinking more, according to a national survey by University of Michigan researchers.