Page last updated: Tuesday, November 18, 2008
U-shaped curve confirmed for alcohol and all-cause mortality for men over 35, but not for younger men
Most studies that support the benefits of moderate drinking have focused on middle-aged men. To examine whether younger men also experience these benefits, investigators assessed alcohol consumption, vital status, and all-cause mortality in 17,279 male construction workers (aged 25–64 years) in Germany. Subjects underwent an occupational health examination at baseline and were followed for an average of 10 years; during follow-up, 698 died.

·In analyses adjusted for age, nationality and smoking, the relationship between alcohol consumption and all-cause mortality among men aged 35-64 years was J or U-shaped (i.e., higher risk among nondrinkers and heavier daily drinkers than in occasional drinkers).

·However, for men aged 25-34 years, the relationship was linear: mortality increased as consumption increased from 0 drinks per day (relative risk [RR] 0.9 compared with occasional drinking) to >=8 drinks per day (RR 2.5) (P for trend=0.02).

·Results did not change substantially when analyses were also adjusted for disorders at baseline that could influence drinking behavior and mortality (e.g. liver diseases, cancer)

This study showed that moderate alcohol consumption appears to lower all-cause mortality in middle-aged and older men. This is likely due to the protective effects of moderate consumption on coronary heart disease. Any benefit from moderate drinking among younger people, who have a lower risk of heart disease, is not apparent. Thus, the “U-shaped” curve does not apply to the young.

Source: Arndt V, Rothenbacher D, Krauledat R, et al. Age, alcohol consumption, and all-cause mortality. Ann Epidemiol. 2004;14(10):750-753.

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