A new study conducted by King’s College London found that one in five pensioners drink alcohol at unhealthy or even dangerous levels. The report was published in the British Medical Journal, and it drew upon the medical records of 28,000 people in Lambeth, a borough of London.
Officially, relevant government agencies define unhealthy levels of alcohol consumption as 21 units per week for men, and 14 units per week for women. What constitutes a unit varies according to the alcohol in a drink. For the purposes of the study, 21 units of alcohol is equivalent to 7 pints of beer (at 5% alcohol). Likewise, 14 units is roughly the same as seven glasses (175 mL) of wine.
The study specifically found that men were more likely than women to drink at unsafe levels. The statistics were alarming in some cases. The top 5 per cent of male drinkers consumed more than double the recognised threshold, weighing in at nearly 50 units of alcohol per week. The top 5 percentile of unhealthy female drinkers drank more than 23 per week.
Furthermore, people who drink beyond accepted healthy limits are more likely to be white and Irish. They’re also likely to be from wealthier backgrounds. Meanwhile, people from African, Asian or Caribbean backgrounds were less likely to drink.
Dr Tony Rao was the lead author for the report. He said in an official statement, “As the Baby Boomer generation become seniors, they represent an ever increasing population of older people drinking at levels that pose a risk to their health.
"This study shows the need for greater awareness of the potential for alcohol related harm in older people, particularly those of higher socio-economic status, who may suffer the consequences of ill health from alcohol at an earlier age than those in previous generations."