A daily drink or two of gin may not be mother's ruin after all -- in fact it could make her healthier.
Researchers have found that moderate alcohol consumption helps middle-aged women age better.
Total intakes of between 15.1 and 30 grams of alcohol a day -- as much as two shots of spirits or nearly three small glasses of wine -- improved the odds of "successful ageing" by 28pc.
The scientists defined "successful ageing" as living to at least 70, being free of cancer, heart conditions and other chronic diseases, and suffering no significant mental or physical impairment.
Women who drank alcohol regularly throughout the week, rather than on a single occasion, benefited most.
Those who had an alcoholic drink five to seven days a week were almost 50pc more likely to enjoy good health in old age than non-drinkers.
The findings emerged from a major American health and lifestyle study involving 14,000 female nurses. For the study, the researchers assigned 13.2 grams of alcohol to one bottle of beer, 10.8 grams to one 118 millilitre glass of wine, and 15.1 grams to a single shot of spirits.
Medical records and questionnaires were used to judge successful ageing.
Light-to-moderate alcohol consumption generally accompanied better long-term health, according to the findings published in the online journal Public Library of Science Medicine.
The authors, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, wrote: "Moderate alcohol consumption was associated with modestly better overall health status.
"In addition, we found that alcohol drinking pattern appeared to play an independent role in alcohol's association with successful ageing, in that spreading out alcohol consumption during the week was associated with better overall health whereas drinking alcohol in just one to two days of a week was not."