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Another reason to cut back on booze: Heavy drinkers risk muscles loss

IANS May 26, 2023

A team of researchers said that heavy drinkers could be putting themselves at risk of muscle loss and frailty in later life, suggesting another reason to cut back on booze, a new study has shown.

According to the study by the UK-based University of East Anglia, people with the least amount of muscle were drinking 10 units or more per day -- roughly a bottle of wine. Researchers said people in their 50s and 60s are more prone to the risk of muscle loss.

"Losing muscle as we age leads to problems with weakness and frailty in later life," said Prof Ailsa Welch from UEA's Norwich Medical School.

The researchers examined data from the UK Biobank, a large-scale database of anonymised lifestyle and health information from half a million people in the country.

They looked at data for nearly 200,000 people aged between 37 and 73 years, the study mentioned. The researchers studied how much alcohol people were drinking and compared it with how much muscle they had, according to their body size.

They also considered how much protein they consumed, their levels of physical activity, and other factors that could influence how much muscle they had.

"Most of the people were in their 50s and 60s. We found that those who drank a lot of alcohol had a lower amount of skeletal muscle compared to people who drank less after we took into account their body sizes and other factors," said Dr Jane Skinner from UEA's Norwich Medical School.

According to the study, drinking alcohol became a problem when people were drinking 10 or more units a day, equivalent to a bottle of wine or four or five pints.

"Alcohol consumption and muscle mass were measured cross-sectionally - in people at the same time - so we can't be sure of a causal link," Skinner said.

According to Prof Welch said, the study shows that alcohol may have harmful effects on muscle mass at higher levels of consumption.

"We know that losing muscle as we age leads to problems with weakness and frailty, so this suggests another reason to avoid drinking high amounts of alcohol routinely in middle and early older age," she added.

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