Page last updated: October 23, 2014
Alcohol consumption and physical functioning among middle-aged and older adults in Central and Eastern Europe

Light-to-moderate drinking is apparently associated with a decreased risk of physical limitations in middle-aged and older adults. A study investigated the association between alcohol consumption and physical limitations in Eastern European populations.

The cross-sectional survey included 28,783 randomly selected residents (45–69 years) in Novosibirsk (Russia), Krakow (Poland) and seven towns of Czech Republic. Physical limitations were defined as <75% of optimal physical functioning using the Physical Functioning (PF-10) Subscale of the Short-Form-36 questionnaire. Alcohol consumption was assessed by a graduated frequency questionnaire, and problem drinking was defined as ≥2 positive responses on the CAGE questionnaire. In the Russian sample, past drinking was also assessed.

The study found that the odds of physical limitations were highest among non-drinkers, decreased with increasing drinking frequency, annual consumption and average drinking quantity and were not associated with problem drinking. The adjusted odds ratio (OR) of physical limitations in nondrinkers versus regular moderate drinkers was 1.61 (95% confidence interval: 1.48–1.75). In the Russian sample with past drinking available, the adjusted OR in those who stopped drinking for health reasons versus continuing drinkers was 3.19 (2.58–3.95); ORs in lifetime abstainers, former drinkers for non-health reasons and reduced drinkers for health reasons were 1.27 (1.02–1.57), 1.48 (1.18–1.85) and 2.40 (2.05–2.81), respectively.

This study found an inverse (protective) association between alcohol consumption and physical limitations. The authors comment however, that the high odds of physical limitations in non-drinkers may be explained by poor health of former drinkers. They suggest that the apparently protective effect of heavier drinking maybe partly due to less healthy former heavy drinkers who moved to lower drinking categories.

Source: Alcohol consumption and physical functioning among middle-aged and older adults in Central and Eastern Europe. Yaoyue Hu, Hynek Pikhart, Sofia Malyutina, Andrzej Pajak, Ruzena Kubinova, Yuri Nikitin, Anne Peasey, Michael Marmot and Martin Bobak. Age Ageing ,published online June 30, 2014.

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