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NewsBites December 2010 Issue

Over 60? Don’t Drink and Walk

I t may still be legal (if unwise) to driv after a couple of drinks, but if you’re 60 or older, you might want to think twice about walking. Even two “screw drivers” (vodka and orange juice) were enough to signifcantly increase the risk of stumbling and impair motor-re- sponse times in a new Dutch study. Re- searchers tested 13 volunteers, average age 61, on a treadmill with obstacles that suddenly appeared in their path. All but one of the participants showed slower response times after only one drink, and after two drinks the aver- age rate of stumbling into the obstacle almost doubled compared to testing when sober. After two drinks, partici- pants’ blood-alcohol levels ranged from 0.03% to 0.06%—still below the legal limit for driving. Researchers character ized the subjects’ obstacle-avoidance reactions at that point as “inadequate, late and too small.”

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