Chronic health conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, liver disease and digestive problems are some of the known side effects of heavy drinking. A new study has found one more reason to cut back on alcohol.

Researchers from the University of East Anglia say excessive drinking can lead to muscle loss and frailty with aging.

"Alcohol intake is a major modifiable risk factor for many diseases, so we wanted to find out more about the relationship between drinking and muscle health as we age," Ailsa Welch, a co-author of the study, explained in a news release.

The findings of the latest study were published in Calcified Tissue International.

Researchers used data from the U.K. Biobank and evaluated around 200,000 people between the ages of 37 and 73 years. The analysis took into account influencing factors, such as body size and protein intake of the participants. They found that people who consumed 10 units of alcohol or more – equivalent to a bottle of wine or four to five pints of beer per day – had the lowest muscle mass.

The findings show why it is important to stop the high habitual consumption of alcohol in middle and early older age.

"Our results give people another reason to avoid heavy drinking, of which there are already many. Also, people can see that there is a dose-response to drinking more alcohol on the amount of muscle people have," said Jane Skinner, a lead author of the study.

The study did not take into account how physical activity and a sedentary lifestyle would make a difference in the outcomes. Further studies with diverse demographics and more follow-ups on the effects of heavy drinking may be required to estimate the long-term impact of drinking.

Tips to quit drinking

  • Set a limit: This is the first step to cutting back on drinking. Make a detailed plan on how much you are going to drink. You can also set a limited budget for the money you are going to spend on alcohol.
  • Keep track of your drinking: Keep a diary on the quantity of alcohol you had and make sure it didn't cross the target limits set by you.
  • Drink slowly: Slowly sipping the alcohol and drinking water, soda or juice after an alcoholic beverage will reduce the total intake. Avoid drinking alcohol on an empty stomach.
  • Have a lower-strength drink: You can reduce the alcohol intake by swapping a heavy drink with a beer or wine that is low in alcohol content.
  • Keep yourself busy: Keep yourself distracted and engage in physical activities such as sports, music or crafts.
  • Ask for support: It is not easy to stop the habit of drinking. So you can ask your friends and family members for their support. Seeking assistance from a doctor, counselor or therapist may also help.
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Excessive drinking can lead to muscle loss and frailty with aging, a new study has found. Unsplash (CC0)