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Jan Cullinane
Co-author, The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Rodale)

Jan Cullinane is the co-author (along with Cathy Fitzgerald) of the best-selling book, The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Rodale). Their book has been widely acclaimed and the first edition reached the number two rank on both Barnes&Noble.com and Amazon.com. The New Retirement was selected by The Washington Post (“Color of Money” columnist Michelle Singletary) as a book club selection. The second edition is now in print.

Drinking Wine: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Friend or foe? Pleasure or poison? There has been a lot of discussion about wine over the past decade or so, and today's column will take a look at how this “nectar of the gods” affects adults over 50. Studies are based upon “moderate” consumption of wine, defined as no more than one drink per day for women, and two drinks per day for men. A drink is defined as five ounces of wine.

The Good (assuming wine isn't contraindicated because of medications, disease – including alcoholism - or for other reasons):

Lowers blood sugar

Improves heart health

Improves body's sensitivity to insulin

Reduces risk of Alzheimer's and dementia

Improves bone density

Improves social interactions

Improves appetite (this could be good or bad, depending)


The Bad and the Ugly (especially if drinking more than moderately):

Raises triglyceride levels

Increases blood pressure

Increases abdominal fat

Higher risk of falls

Increases chance of being involved in a vehicle accident

Alcohol abuse (about 12% of those 55 and older have an alcohol problem)

Affects short-term memory

Adverse interactions with other medicines (either magnifying or minimizing their effects)

Increases risk of oral cancer

Consuming calories in the form of alcohol instead of nutritious foods

The latest studies show that even at low levels of consumption, “as little as one drink a day increases a woman's risk of several types of cancer by 13%...including tumors of the breast, esophagus, larynx, rectum and liver.” (LA Times)

And, as we age, keep in mind that our body will become more sensitive to the effects of alcohol – we may no longer be able to drink like we could when we were younger (assuming we did drink then). So is wine good for you? With the latest research, it seems the answer is yes and no.

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