Menopause, Aging and Alcohol Do Not Mix Well

Patient Expert

I hate to be a killjoy, but you need to think twice before drinking that second (or third) vodka tonic, Moscow mule, beer or glass of wine. That’s because drinking actually gets riskier as we age.

True, drinking moderate amounts of alcohol may be good for your health.  Research suggests that drinking a little alcohol (especially wine) daily may be linked to increased life expectancy in middle-age men. A 2007 study also found a lower rate of cardiovascular death among those who drank a moderate amount.

But what exactly is a moderate amount? The definition from experts amounts to no more than seven drinks weekly and no more than three drinks on any single day. A serving is defined as 5 fluid ounces (one glass) of wine, 12 fluid ounces (one can or bottle) of bear, or 1.5 fluid ounces (one shot) of 80-percent distilled spirits.

As we age, we become more at risk for developing issues related to alcohol. That’s because:

  • Our bodies have less muscle mass and water content. That causes more alcohol to circulate in our blood stream.
  • Our changing metabolism causes the alcohol to break down slower, thus meaning that the effect of a drink will stay with us for a longer period of time.
  • Continuing to drink a large amount as we age – even if it’s the same amount you drank when you were in your 20s and 30s -- can result in a drinking problem because of these changes.
  • The older brain is more sensitive to alcohol. Thus, you may experience memory issues and worsening depression if you drink large quantities.

Increased Health Risks

So what are the health risks? Here’s the list:

  • Alcohol can trigger hot flashes for some women as they go through the menopause transition. Personally, I found that beer and vodka caused these “power surges” whereas wine did not.
  • Women who drink may see depression worsen during menopause.
  • Drinking any amount of alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer.
  • Alcohol consumption also ups your risk of developing many types of cancer.
  • Drinking too much alcohol heightens your risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • You’re also at greater risk of developing obesity, osteoporosis, bone fractures and type 2 diabetes if you drink too much alcohol.

Savoring the Pleasure

So what should you do if you enjoy an adult beverage? In her book Goddesses Never Age, Dr. Christiane Northrup, a leading authority in women’s health, recommends that you take the time to truly savor the pleasure of one drink. Look at the color, smell the fragrance and slowly sip it. Learn to relish it as the treat it is and allow that one treat on a daily basis.

Other Shareposts You Might Like:
What You Put on Your Plate May Have Effect on Hot Flashes
Researchers Watch Brain Regions Light Up During Hot Flashes
Focus on Protecting Your Heart During, After Menopause

Primary Sources for This Sharepost:
Adams, J.U. (2015). Drinking Gets Riskier As We Age. Houston Chronicle.
North American Menopause Society.(ND). Drink to Your Health at Menopause, or Not?
Northrup C. (2015). Goddesses Never Age: The Secret Prescription for Radiance, Vitality, and Well-Being.
Weil, A. (2015). Light Alcohol Consumption Extends Life. DrWeil.com.