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There are several inevitabilities in life including death and taxes as the old saying goes. However, there is another, ageing as at some point faces sag and joints begin to fail as the ravages of time catch up with everyone. For generations scientists and doctors have been trying to slow down this process and understand how certain factors play a role. Alcohol is one of those factors and the role it plays is significant.
According to a study conducted by the University of Oxford just five glasses of wine, around 17 units, a week can speed up ageing.
Data was taken from 500,000 people who enrolled in a UK Biobank study.
Subsequently, the University of Oxford analysed the data looking for tell-tale genetic markers which showed how much alcohol a person had consumed
After this point the alcohol begins to have an effect on the body’s DNA, damaging a part of the strands known as telomeres.
Studies have previously linked damage to the telomeres with an increased risk of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
The conclusions were reached after scientists analysed the length of said telomeres in a laboratory setting.
Despite the unnerving nature of the study results, there is one caveat.
The study found no link between alcohol consumption and biological ageing below the 17-unit marker.
Speaking about the study the researchers concluded: “This finding suggests that a necessary minimum amount of alcohol consumption is required to damage telomeres.
“Similar relationships with alcohol have been described for other health outcomes.”
Lead author Dr Anya Topiwala added: “These findings support the suggestion that alcohol, particularly at excessive levels, directly affects telomere length.
“Shortened telomeres have been proposed as risk factors which may cause a number of severe age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
“Our results provide another piece of information for clinicians and patients seeking to reduce the harmful effects of excess alcohol.
“Furthermore, the dose of alcohol is important – even reducing drinking could have benefits.”
The NHS advises that men and women should not drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week “on a regular basis”.
Drinking high levels of alcohol on a regular basis can increase the risk of a number of conditions including:
• Mouth cancer
• Throat cancer
• Breast cancer
• Heart disease
• Liver disease
• Brain damage
• Nervous system damage.
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