Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Moderate drinking: Health benefits or not?

Date:
August 24, 2010
Source:
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research
Summary:
There is disagreement about the health benefits of moderate drinking. A new study has examined drinking and mortality during a 20-year period. Findings confirm an association between moderate drinking and reduced mortality among older adults.

New findings confirm an association between moderate drinking and reduced mortality among older adults.
Credit: iStockphoto/Courtney Keating

While moderate drinking -- one to less than three drinks per day -- is linked to a decrease in mortality in middle-aged and older adults, there is also concern that the health benefits of moderate drinking have been overestimated. A new study of the association between drinking and mortality during a 20-year period, which controlled for confounding factors such as previous problem drinking, confirms an association of moderate drinking and reduced mortality among older adults.

Results will be published in the November 2010 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.

"Although alcohol misuse is linked to many medical conditions, considerable epidemiological evidence indicates that moderate alcohol use is related to reduced total mortality," explained Charles J. Holahan, a professor in the department of psychology at The University of Texas at Austin and corresponding author for the study. "We expected that a substantial part of the health benefits associated with moderating drinking were due to confounding factors associated with alcohol abstention. For example, abstainers may include former problem drinkers with health problems and individuals who are atypical in terms of sociodemographic and social-behavioral factors that may increase health risk."

"None of the studies that have examined the association of drinking and mortality and cardiovascular disease have been experimental studies in which a group of people was randomly chosen to drink a particular amount of alcohol or to not drink alcohol," observed Alison A. Moore, professor of medicine and psychiatry in the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. "All have been observational studies, meaning those in which persons who consume varying amounts of alcohol are compared with those who don't. Because conditions in these observational studies are not controlled and the characteristics of persons who choose to drink varying amounts of alcohol or not differ quite a bit, it is impossible to prove that alcohol consumption causes reduced risks for coronary heart disease, diabetes or mortality."

For this study, using data gathered from a larger study of late-life patterns of drinking and related problems, researchers followed 1,824 older adults (1,142 men, 682 women) between the ages of 55 and 65 years of age -- who were former or current drinkers -- for 20 years. The information collected included: daily alcohol consumption, sociodemographic factors, former problem-drinking status, health factors, and social behavioral factors. Death was confirmed primarily by a death certificate.

"Controlling only for age and gender, mortality was highest among abstainers and heavy drinkers and lowest in moderate drinkers," said Holahan. "Controlling for former problem drinking status, existing health problems, and key sociodemographic and social-behavioral factors substantially reduced the mortality effect for abstainers compared to moderate drinkers. However, even after adjusting for all covariates, abstainers and heavy drinkers continued to show increased mortality risks of 49 percent and 42 percent, respectively, compared to moderate drinkers."

"In other words, the association of moderate drinking and reduced mortality among older adults is reduced but still present when taking into consideration factors that affect both alcohol consumption and mortality," said Moore. "For example, socioeconomic status has been a consistent factor in the link between alcohol consumption and mortality. That is, those with higher income and/or education are less likely to be abstainers and to die."

Thus, the health benefits of moderate drinking ae complicated because a number of underlying health risks are correlated with later life abstention, Holahan noted.

"Our findings demonstrate that abstainers were significantly more likely to have had prior drinking problems, to be obese, and to smoke cigarettes than moderate drinkers and scored significantly higher than moderate drinkers on health problems, depressive symptoms, and avoidance coping," he said. "In addition, abstainers were significantly lower than moderate drinkers on socioeconomic status, physical activity, number of close friends, and quality of friend support and significantly less likely to be married than moderate drinkers. Moreover, all of these factors that were associated with abstention significantly predicted mortality."

Both Holahan and Moore reiterated that any health benefits are linked to moderation. "Older persons drinking alcohol should remember that consuming more than two drinks a day exceeds recommended alcohol consumption guidelines in the U.S. and is associated with increased falls, a higher risk of alcohol use problems, and potential adverse interactions with medications," said Holahan. "Moreover, nondrinkers should not start drinking to try to enhance their health, and individuals who are or plan to become pregnant, or have alcohol problems or medical conditions that could be worsened by alcohol should not drink."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Charles J. Holahan, Kathleen K. Schutte, Penny L. Brennan, Carole K. Holahan, Bernice S. Moos and Rudolf H. Moos. Late-Life Alcohol Consumption and 20-Year Mortality. Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, 24 August 2010 DOI: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2010.01286.x

Cite This Page:

Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. "Moderate drinking: Health benefits or not?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100824161432.htm>.
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. (2010, August 24). Moderate drinking: Health benefits or not?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100824161432.htm
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. "Moderate drinking: Health benefits or not?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100824161432.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new protocols for healthcare workers interacting with Ebola patients. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Tens of thousands of doses of experimental Ebola vaccines could be available for "real-world" testing in West Africa as soon as January as long as they are deemed safe in soon to start trials, the World Health Organization said Tuesday. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set up new guidelines for health workers taking care of patients infected with Ebola. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins