Page last updated: April 19, 2012
Impact of alcohol use on mortality in the elderly

In order to examine the effects of problematic drinking, alcohol use and binge drinking on all-cause mortality in the elderly, researchers investigated 45-month all-cause mortality of 997 randomly sampled community-dwelling elderly Koreans aged 65 years or older who participated in the Korean Longitudinal Study on Health and Aging. Problematic drinking was defined as having alcohol use disorders according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition criteria or having 8 or higher of the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test. Light drinking was defined as drinking 7 alcoholic drinks or less, and heavy drinking as having 14 alcoholic drinks more per week during past 12 months. Binge drinking was defined as having 6 or more drinks on a single occasion at least monthly.
During the 45 month follow-up period, one hundred and thirteen participants (11.3%) died. Heavy drinking (>14 alcoholic drinks per week) increased the all-cause mortality risk when in association with problematic drinking (hazard ratio [HR] = 2.604, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.221-5.553, p = 0.012) or binge drinking (HR = 2.823, 95% CI = 1.259-6.328, p = 0.013). Light drinking ( < / = 7 alcoholic drinks per week) was associated with decreased all-cause mortality (HR = 0.114, 95% CI = 0.015-0.833, p = 0.032).
The authors conclude that problematic drinking, but not light drinking, is associated with increased all-cause mortality in elderly Koreas, particularly when it is heavy and/or combined with binge drinking.
Source: Impact of alcohol use on mortality in the elderly: results from the Korean Longitudinal Study. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Vol 121, No 1-2, 2012, pp133-139

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