Study Links Poor Hydration to Early Aging, Chronic Disease

This 'supports the concept that as a population we are probably not drinking enough water'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 2, 2023 2:16 PM CST
Study Links Poor Hydration to Early Aging, Chronic Disease
Researchers say around half the world's people aren't drinking enough water every day.   (Getty Images/Hyrma)

A new study has added to the ocean of evidence that suggests staying hydrated is vitally important for good health. In a National Institutes of Health study published in the Lancet, researchers said drinking enough water appears to significantly lower the risk of chronic disease, premature aging, and premature death, NBC reports. The team used health data collected from a group of more than 11,000 American adults over 30 years, starting in 1987, when most participants were in their 40s or 50s, reports CNN. The average age of participants at the final assessment was 76, researchers say, though some were in their 90s.

"The results suggest that proper hydration may slow down aging and prolong a disease-free life," study co-author Natalia Dmitrieva, a researcher at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, said in a news release. The researchers said they measured serum sodium levels, which go up when people drink less fluids, and found that people at the higher end of the normal range had a 50% higher risk of being biologically older than their real age and a 64% higher risk of diseases including heart failure, stroke, chronic lung disease, diabetes and dementia. The researchers say they excluded participants with chronic conditions like obesity that could affect serum sodium levels.

"This ... supports the concept that as a population we are probably not drinking enough water," Dr. Howard Sesso, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School who was not involved in the study, tells CNN, though he adds that it "would have been nice" if researchers had included actual data on fluid intake in study participants. Other experts, and the researchers themselves, noted that the study hadn't shown a causal link between lower fluid intake and poor health outcomes. "Randomized, controlled trials are necessary to determine if optimal hydration can promote healthy aging, prevent disease, and lead to a longer life. However, the associations can still inform clinical practice and guide personal health behavior," the researchers said. (More hydration stories.)

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