How Alcohol May be Aging You Faster

Craft cocktails, wine tastings and beer tappings have in recent years become common social events and alcohol an integral component of dining out.  But with all this focus on drinking, are people imbibing too much and is it aging them faster?  Studies have found that drinking more than a moderate amount, one glass per day for women and two for men, can lead to skin aging and irritation, interfere with good sleep and contribute to weight gain and an increased risk for age-related illnesses.

Alcoholic drinks can dehydrate your skin, causing wrinkles to be more noticeable and broken capillaries to develop on the face and cheeks. Alcohol also may worsen rosacea, eczema and psoriasis. And because alcohol contains empty calories and often leads people to eat more at meals and for snacks, it can contribute to weight gain.  People who limit or stop drinking alcohol often report feeling more energetic and well-rested after a night’s sleep.

Older adults may not metabolize alcohol the way they did when they were younger and tolerance may decline over time.  Alcohol can worsen memory problems and increase the risk of falls resulting in injury among older adults, a leading cause of hospitalization among people over 65.  Alcohol may also interact with prescription and over-the-counter medications.  

And while small amounts of alcohol may help protect the heart, too much drinking can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure or an abnormal heartbeat.  Long-term heavy drinking is associated with liver disease, brain damage, heart disease and is linked with an increased risk of developing breast cancer.   Alcohol consumption also robs the body of vitamin A which may worsen eyesight and slow cell renewal and turnover. 

Dehydration from too much alcohol also can make a face puffy when tissue swells trying to store water.  Hair can become dry, weak and brittle.  People who drink in excess may also become deficient in zinc which can lead to hair loss.  

If you are sober curious; interested in abstaining from drinking for some or all of the time, you are not alone.  Sober bars are popping up across the country for people who want to enjoy the social connection of going out without drinking; more craft mocktails are available at bars and restaurants for those who choose not to drink. 

Learn more about the many health advantages to quitting alcohol by following this link to a recent post by Cleveland Clinic’s Health Essentials webpage.