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On Call: Health Advice from UC San Diego Health Experts

By Dr Alison Moore and Dr Heather Hofflich


Safe Alcohol Consumption for the Aging Not One-Size-Fits-All


The risks and potential benefits of alcohol consumption on healthy aging depend on the amount and frequency of alcohol consumption as well as one’s age and gender, risk for alcoholism, existing medical and psychiatric conditions, and medications.

Low-risk drinking for women of all ages and men aged 65 and older is no more than three drinks on any one day and no more than seven drinks per week. For men younger than 65, the limits are higher—no more than four drinks on any one day and no more than 14 drinks per week.

Safe drinking limits vary with gender and age for several reasons. Women have a lower tolerance to alcohol than men because of smaller body size and lower levels of an enzyme that metabolizes alcohol. Older adults have lower limits than younger adults because of age-related changes in body composition that result in a higher blood alcohol level per amount of alcohol consumed.

If one has a personal or family history of alcoholism, drinking any alcohol may be risky. Certain medical and psychiatric conditions are also made worse or are caused by alcohol. For example, any amount of alcohol can cause a gout flare, and three drinks a day can worsen high blood pressure and depression. Many medications are made less effective or have harmful side effects with alcohol.

More research needs to be done, but drinking one standard drink daily has been associated with reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, particularly among older adults with risk factors for cardiovascular disease (diabetes, a prior heart attack, or high blood pressure). Alison Moore.

What are the Symptoms of a Thyroid Problem?

The thyroid gland is butterfly-shaped and located in the lower front of the neck. The thyroid controls the body’s metabolism by producing a hormone. The most common thyroid problems, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, are a result of abnormal hormone production. Here’s an overview of these two types:

Hypothyroidism: This means that the thyroid gland is not producing enough thyroid hormone. The most common symptoms are fatigue, dry skin, weight gain, and constipation. You may notice feeling colder than normal. Forgetfulness and depression can also be signs of low thyroid production. Hair loss can also be another sign. The only true way to know for sure if you have hypothyroid disease is to have your physician perform a TSH test.

Hyperthyroidism: Hyperthyroidism means that the thyroid gland is producing too much thyroid hormone and is overactive. Symptoms include heart palpitations, increased anxiety, loose/more frequent bowel movement or diarrhea and weight loss. Tremors in your hands and muscle weakness in your thighs and arms can occur as well. In a form of hyperthyroidism called Grave’s disease, your eyes may enlarge or bulge and your thyroid gland may enlarge. If you feel you have any of these symptoms, please contact your doctor to have your TSH checked. Heather Hofflich.

For questions, comments or topic suggestions, please contact +1-619 471 0234 or

Alison Moore, MD, MPH, Primary Care physician and Chief of Medicine for seniors

Heather Hofflich, DO, Primary Care and Endocrine Physician


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