Observational studies have consistently documented inverse associations between moderate alcohol consumption and risk of many major chronic diseases, as well as overall mortality. It is largely unknown whether moderate alcohol intake is also associated with overall health and well-being, or “successful aging”, among older populations.
Abstract 18681: Moderate Alcohol Consumption at Midlife and Successful Survival in Women at Age 70 Years and Older, Qi Sun; Meir J Stampfer; Mary K Townsend; Olivia I Okereke; Eric B Rimm; Frank B Hu; Francine Grodstein
Alcohol consumption at mid-life was prospectively assessed using a validated food frequency questionnaire in 13,961 Nurses’ Health Study participants who survived to age 70 or older. Consumption at mid-life was chosen to reduce any possibility of reverse causation, and because earlier-life exposures likely have a large impact on chronic health conditions in later life. “Successful survival” was defined as being free of 11 major chronic diseases and having no major cognitive impairment, physical impairment, or mental health limitations. Analyses were restricted to the large majority of participants whose alcohol consumption was no more than moderate (<=45 g/day) at midlife.
Of all eligible study participants, 1,499 (10.7%) achieved successful survival. After multivariate adjustment of potential confounders, including smoking, body mass index, and physical activity, moderate alcohol consumption was associated with increased odds of successful survival. The odds ratios (95% confidence interval) were 1.0 (referent) for non-drinkers, 1.11 for <= 5.0 g/day, 1.17 for 5.1-15.0 g/day, 1.26 for 15.1-30.0 g/day, and 1.24 for 30.1-45.0 g/day. Meanwhile, independent of total alcohol intake, participants who drank alcohol in a regular, rather than a “binging” pattern had higher odds of successful survival; for example, the odds ratios (95% confidence interval) were 1.28 and 1.22 for those drinking 3-6 days and 7 days per week, respectively, in comparison with non-drinkers, whereas the odds ratio was 1.07 for those drinking just 1-2 days per week.
These data suggest that moderate consumption of alcohol at mid-life may be related to a modest increase in overall health status among women who survive to older ages.