How Fast Can Alcohol Age You?

Can drinking alcohol really speed up the aging process? Well, the truth is that yes, it can make you age faster by causing wrinkles. This includes premature wrinkles, loss of collagen, elasticity, redness, dehydration and puffiness. However, it’s the amount and frequency of your drinking that really matters. There are actually some recent studies that indicate that alcohol has some health benefits – when you drink in moderation.

Posted on | Jodi Sawyer, RN | Comments ()

Can drinking alcohol really speed up the aging process? Well, the truth is that yes, it can make you age faster by causing wrinkles. This includes premature wrinkles, loss of collagen, elasticity, redness, dehydration and puffiness. However, it’s the amount and frequency of your drinking that really matters. There are actually some recent studies that indicate that alcohol has some health benefits – when you drink in moderation.

To begin with, there are no nutrients in alcohol. In fact, alcohol can adversely affect your nutrition levels by causing a depletion in healthy nutrients that aid in carrying oxygen throughout your body. Specifically, alcohol can have a huge negative impact on your vitamin A level, which is a very important antioxidant for your skin/body and it is vital in the regeneration of new cells. 

Vitamin A is also extremely important in the production of collagen. When you have lower amounts of collagen, you lose elasticity in your skin. Collagen and elasticity are what keep your skin supple, taut and looking young. By drinking in excess, you actually speed up the aging process because you are already losing collagen and elasticity as you age. Your facial skin is already so delicate as compared to other areas of your body. We are constantly exposed to pollution, smog, smoke and the sun. The more you drink in excess, the more  you’re speeding up the clock.

According to the US Government Dietary Guidelines, a moderate level of drinking is up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men. A drink is either 5 fluid ounces of wine, 12 fluid ounces of regular beer, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled liquor.

When alcohol is metabolized, it works as a vasodilator in that it widens the blood vessels that bring blood to the face. This can cause redness as well as puffiness or swelling. When you consume a lot of alcohol over a long period of time, the blood vessels just continue to grow and enlarge. This will eventually lead to a loss of skin tone and/or permanent redness including skin that is blotchy and similar to rosacea. This redness can also turn into broken capillaries or vessels that can burst, especially around the nose and face.

Alcohol is also very dehydrating in that it acts like a diuretic. The more you drink, the more dehydrated you will be. A good rule of thumb is to have a water or a non-alcoholic beverage in between drinks to keep yourself hydrated while enjoying your favorite libation. You will be happy to have your skin hydrated and your body will love you for avoiding a nasty morning hangover.

Most people know and understand that alcoholism is a disease and the long-term effects can be detrimental to your health. Long-term heavy drinking can lead to liver disease, brain damage, heart disease and even contribute to breast cancer. 

It’s also very important to know that women actually metabolize alcohol differently than men. Women get a higher concentration of alcohol in their bloodstream and brain chemistry. Women are typically smaller in stature and size which explains why women often feel the effects of alcohol so much faster than men.

After explaining all the bad effects of alcohol, here is some good news for those of us who like to treat ourselves to a drink. Studies have shown that moderate drinking can help to lower cholesterol and lower the risk of heart attack (as compared to non-drinkers, especially in older men). Alcohol can help to lower the risk of diabetes by improving the body’s sensitivity to insulin. It can also help to lower the risk of dementia. 

Knowing all the bad and good effects of drinking helps one understand that it’s all about moderation. Try to keep a healthy balance, have fun, and take good care of yourself.

Blog written by Jodi Sawyer, RN
Jodi Sawyer has worked as a registered nurse for over 14 years and was one of the first RNs in Southern California to work with...