Heavy Alcohol Use Speeds Up Cellular Aging
Researchers have found that the more alcohol a person consumes, the more his or her cells exhibit aging. That is, alcoholic patients have shorter telomeres, putting them at increased risk for conditions related to aging, such as heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and cancer. The new study was presented at the 40th annual meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism in Denver.
Telomeres are the protein caps and the end of chromosomes and are indicators of again and overall health. Each time a cell replicates, a small part of the telomere is lost, so they gradually shorten over a person’s lifespan.
However, some groups tend to have shorter telomeres for reasons unrelated to aging, says Naruhisa Yamaki, M.D., a clinical fellow at the Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine, as reported by Newswise.
“Our study showed that alcoholic patients have a shortened telomere length, which means that heavy drinking causes biological aging at a cellular level.”
About The Study
Yamaki and co-researchers examined 255 subjects from alcohol addiction treatment facilities at Kurihama National Hospital in Yokosuka, Japan. They included 134 alcoholic patients and 121 age-matched controls or non-alcoholics, aged 41-85 years old. Samples of DNA, in addition to reports of drinking histories, were gathered from the participants.
Yamaki noted that a relationship between thiamine deficiency and telomere shortening was also discovered. Thiamine deficiency may cause neural impairments, such as Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS), a condition also sometimes associated with high alcohol consumption.
According to Healthline, heavy alcohol use is the most common cause of WKS. WKS can also be associated with diet deficiencies or other medical conditions that impair vitamin B-1 absorption.
“…how exactly TD can cause neural impairments is unclear, it is well-known that oxidation stress causes telomere shortening and, thus, it is possible that oxidation stress may also cause neuron death.”
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology