ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
38% of U.S. Adults Use Alternative Treatments
Acupuncture May Help Restore Lost Sense of Smell
Indigo Ointment Benefits Psoriasis Patients
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Pain More a Cause of Arthritis Than a Symptom
Chronic Low Back Pain Is on the Rise
Autumn Sees More Women With Bunion Problems
CANCER
Red Meat No No No But Oily Fish Yes Yes Yes
HPV Vaccine Has Higher Allergic Reaction Rate
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
CAREGIVING
Tainted China Formula Caused High Rate of Kidney Stones in Kids
Diabetes Epidemic Now Poses Challenges for Nursing Homes
Hispanic Children More Likely to Have Hearing Loss
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
COSMETIC
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
DENTAL, ORAL
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
DIABETES
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
Spices, Herbs Boost Health for Diabetics
Findings Challenge Tight Glucose Control for Critically Ill Patients
DIET, NUTRITION
Western Diet Linked To Heart Disease, Metabolic Syndrome
Soluble Fiber, But Not Bran, Soothes Irritable Bowel
Fasting on Alternate Days May Make Dieting Easier
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Walkable Neighborhoods Keep the Pounds Off
Exhaust From Railroad Diesel Linked to Lung Ailments
Think You Are Lead-Free? Check Your Soil
EYE CARE, VISION
When Corks Fly, Watch the Eyes
Eye Care Checkups Tied to Insurance Status
Thyroid Problems Boost Glaucoma Risk
FITNESS
Research Confirms How Valuable A Healthy Lifestyle Can Be
Fall Cleanup Is a Prime Time for Accidents
Simple Exercise Precautions To Help Keep Baby Boomers Fit
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
GENERAL HEALTH
Hidden Salt in Diet Haunts Many With Heart Failure
Retail Clinics Attracting Those Without Regular Doctors
When Healing Becomes a Commodity
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Low Vitamin D Levels Linked to Heart Disease
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Frequent Feedings May Be Making Babies Fat
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
MEN'S HEALTH
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
SENIORS
Martial Arts Training May Save Seniors' Hips
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Natural Childbirth Moms More Attuned to Babies' Cry
Simple Carbs Pose Heart Risk for Women
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For Women, Moderate Midlife Drinking Linked to Healthier Old Age

THURSDAY, Sept. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Women who consume moderate amounts of alcohol in middle age are somewhat more likely than teetotalers to be in good physical and mental health in old age, new research finds.

The study doesn't prove that moderate drinking will lead to better health compared to not drinking, since it's possible that other factors could account for the difference. Also, the research doesn't examine the long-term cost of drinking, say, wine instead of milk with dinner.

And study author Dr. Qi Sun doesn't recommend that middle-aged women start drinking if they don't already. Still, "if you are an otherwise healthy person, and you're a long-term light-to-moderate drinker, this may have some benefits," said Sun, an instructor in medicine at Harvard School of Public Health.

Scientists have found evidence that moderate drinking can benefit health, particularly in terms of heart disease, stroke and brain function, Sun said. It's not clear exactly how alcohol benefits health, but Sun said it may have something to do with how alcohol reduces inflammation in the body.

In the new study, published in the September issue of PLoS Medicine , Sun and colleagues examined the medical records of 13,894 nurses who were middle-aged in the 1980s (median age was 58) and lived to be at least 70. The health of the women was updated through the decades, and the study excluded heavy drinkers or those with possible alcohol problems.

The researchers then focused on 1,491 women (11 percent) who had aged successfully, meaning they didn't suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes or report physical or mental limitations in old age. They compared them to the other women and tried to determine whether those who drank in midlife -- they tended to drink wine -- did any better health-wise.

Of those who had no major health problems in old age, only 22 percent were non-drinkers. Sixty-two percent drank about one drink a day (15 grams of alcohol); nearly 10 percent drank one to two drinks daily, and 3 percent downed two to three drinks a day.

After adjusting their statistics so they wouldn't be thrown off by factors such as the women's ages and whether they smoked, the researchers found that the healthiest women in old age were more likely to have been drinkers in midlife. Sun estimated that the moderate drinkers were about 20 percent more likely to be healthy later in life.

And routinely drinking light to moderate amounts of alcohol appeared to have more benefit than drinking only occasionally, the researchers said.

As for men, the study authors write that there's sparse research into the effect of midlife drinking on their health later in life.

David Melzer, a professor of epidemiology and public health at Peninsula Medical School in the United Kingdom, said people should be cautious about drinking too much. According to him, more than two drinks a day for women or three for men is bad for a person's health. And people should remember that those are "old-fashioned" sized drinks, not "supersized," he said.

He adds that the study limits itself to women who were in good shape in middle age. "The small possible benefit of alcohol may be outweighed in people with disease," he said, "and especially in those on many sorts of medication that can interact with alcohol."

More information

For more on alcohol use, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

SOURCES: Qi Sun, M.D., ScD, instructor in medicine, Harvard School of Public Health, and Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston; David Melzer, Ph.D., professor, epidemiology and public health, Peninsula Medical School, Exeter, England; September 2011 PLoS Medicine