Health Watch: Is Wine the Key to a Long Life?

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Health Watch: Is Wine the Key to a Long Life?

Research has shown a positive relationship between wine and fighting the effects of age—from studies on resveratrol's potential anti-aging properties to evidence that a bit of alcohol might help fight off cognitive decline. Now, a long-term study is bolstering the idea that moderate drinking might help you live longer.

The 90+ Study, an ongoing project by the University of California at Irvine Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders (UCI MIND), looks at different lifestyle habits to determine how they affect longevity. Since the study's inception in 2003, more than 1,600 participants have volunteered to undergo twice-yearly evaluations, including neurological, neuropsychological, cognitive and physical tests, and give information about their lifestyles, diets and medical histories.

In February, Dr. Claudia Kawas, a geriatric neurologist and codirector of the study, explained her team's findings on the relationship between alcohol and longevity at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual conference in Austin, Texas. According to the study's website, Kawas announced that consuming about two glasses of wine or beer per day was associated with an 18 percent reduced risk of premature death over abstainers. The team's research indicates that regular exercise, social and cognitive engagement, and moderate coffee consumption also lead to longer lifespans.

Because the study is ongoing, estimates of how much these lifestyle factors affect lifespan might change over time as new data is reported. In an email to Wine Spectator, Dana Greenia, a co-investigator of the 90+ Study, said that the percentage that moderate drinking lowered the likelihood of dying was closer to 15 percent, citing a study published in 2007 that reflected that number. But she was clear about the key point of the results: "Simply, people who drank moderate amounts of alcohol or coffee lived longer than those who abstained."

Read more at Wine Spectator