This article was originally published on MUNCHIES.
According to a study from the American Society of Human Genetics, it seems that alcohol may actually slow the aging process, which also might explain why Keith Richards is the Highlander.
By conducting genetic research, the scientists were able to measure the difference between the biological age (wear and tear of their body) and chronological age (number of years) of participants.
Turns out that those who drank one to two drinks per day correlated with the healthiest aging patterns while the funnest group—those whose smoked and drank heavily—were predictably (and admirably) the most rapidly aging.
But the really interesting result in this study was the fact that those with very low consumption were also linked to accelerated aging, meaning that drinking one to two drinks per day is actually better for one's biological age than abstaining from alcohol.
"These new tools allow us to monitor smoking and alcohol use in an objective way, and to understand their effects quantitatively," Meeshanthini Dogan, a researcher at the University of Iowa said in a press statement. "Furthermore, our methods could be used to analyze any set of 450 BeadChip data, which means that existing data can be used to identify new patterns and that all such results can be easily compared."
But this study isn't a bunch of academic gobbledygook either. It could have far-reaching implications for the health field. "Being able to objectively identify future smokers and heavy alcohol users when they are young, before major health issues arise, can help providers and public health practitioners prevent future problems, improve quality of life, and reduce later medical costs," co-author Robert A. Philibert added.
The other intriguing result here is that consuming booze and smokes can actually change your DNA, and the researchers hope to turn their gaze to whether you can change DNA if you quit booze and tobacco.
"We want to study how the intensity of current tobacco and alcohol use and cumulative levels of use throughout a lifetime affect methylation, including what happens when a person quits smoking or drinking," Dogan said. "By clarifying at what point the epigenetic changes become tougher to stop or reverse, we can inform decisions about how best to use the limited public health resources we have."
While seasoned drinkers can sometimes look years beyond their age, research has shown time and time again that moderate amounts of booze can actually lower the risk of heart attack in elderly people andmake them happy.