Is Drinking the Secret to Longevity?
Most of us will only live to be 70, so raise your hand if you’re jealous of 100-year-olds blowing out birthday candles and giving some wise advice on how to live a long, happy life. The study, called the 90+ Study , aims to collect data on the most elderly people, but the results were not supposed to indicate that alcohol is a tonic for longevity.
Headlines : Study: Alcohol Is Better Than Exercise For Longevity For People Over 90 (Chicago Tribune); Drinking Alcohol Is The Key To Life After 90 (US News and World Report)
Story : The 90+ study involves people over 90, as the name suggests, to find out why these people live so long and what keeps some of them old.
This weekend, Dr. Claudia Cavas, one of the study’s principal investigators, spoke to reporters about some of the study’s findings at a press conference . There doesn’t seem to be a new article, but many analyzes have been published over the years, including this 2016 analysis of lifestyle factors associated with dementia in this cohort of 90 and older. You may have seen the 60 Minutes special about this study.
But here’s the thing: people are included in this study only after they have experienced ordinary people. Kawas noted that people suffering from health problems or even death from alcohol (or, logically, from something else) do not live to participate in the study. After all, alcohol is a risk factor for cancer .
Research is also not intended to investigate cause and effect. Elderly people who play sports tend to live the longest, but it is possible that seniors who are healthy enough to play sports do not have as many health problems as their short-lived peers.
Alcohol can be another such marker: If you are drinking wine with your family at dinner, it could be a story about your health, happiness, and social connections, rather than a test of the effects of alcohol on your body. Time reports that there is research supporting the idea that alcohol can promote longevity, but there is also research supporting the harmful effects of alcohol.
Takeaway : This is not a study on how to live to be 90; this is a study examining some of the differences between people who have already achieved this. A 2016 study found that none of the variables they measured at age 70 affected the cognitive ability of people at age 90. The jury is pending.