No Direct Survival Effect of Light to Moderate Alcohol Drinking in Community-Dwelling Older Adults

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Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To assess the relationship between light to moderate alcohol consumption and mortality, particularly accounting for baseline health status and physical activity.

DESIGN:

Prospective, longitudinal, population-based study.

SETTING:

The Pianoro Study, which consisted of community-dwelling older adults in three towns in northern Italy.

PARTICIPANTS:

Noninstitutionalized individuals of both sexes aged 65 and older (N = 5,256; 2,318 abstainers, 2,309 light to moderate drinkers (≤2 alcoholic units/d)).

MEASUREMENTS:

Baseline information about demographic characteristics, lifestyle factors, physical activity (Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly (PASE)), perceived health status (visual analog scale (VAS)), dependency level, risk factors, and previous cardiovascular events was obtained using a structured questionnaire. Follow-up information was obtained 6 years later from 2,752 survivors, and mortality information was obtained from death certificates.

RESULTS:

Male sex, being physically active, and good health status were independently associated with light to moderate drinking (P < .001). An apparent protective effect of light to moderate drinking on mortality was evident in the unadjusted analysis and after adjusting for age, sex, risk factors, and cardiovascular events (adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) = 0.77, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.68–0.88, P < .001), but after also adjusting for PASE and VAS, the relationship was no longer significant (aHR = 0.92, 95% CI = 0.80–1.05, P = .19). Follow-up physical activity was associated with baseline alcohol consumption; baseline physical activity did not predict alcohol consumption during follow-up.

CONCLUSION:

After accounting for health status and physical activity, light to moderate alcohol drinking had no direct protective effect on mortality.

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