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Alcohol use and mortality in older men and women

Authors

  • Kieran A. McCaul,

    Corresponding author
    1. Western Australian Centre for Health and Ageing, Centre for Medical Research, University of Western Australia and Western Australian Institute for Medical Research, Perth, Western Australia, Australia,
    2. School of Medicine and Pharmacology, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia, Australia,
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  • Osvaldo P. Almeida,

    1. Western Australian Centre for Health and Ageing, Centre for Medical Research, University of Western Australia and Western Australian Institute for Medical Research, Perth, Western Australia, Australia,
    2. School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia, Australia,
    3. Department of Psychiatry, Royal Perth Hospital, Perth, Western Australia, Australia,
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  • Graeme J. Hankey,

    1. Stroke Unit, Department of Neurology, Royal Perth Hospital, Perth, Western Australia, Australia,
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  • Konrad Jamrozik,

    1. School of Population Health and Clinical Practice, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia,
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  • Julie E. Byles,

    1. Research Centre for Gender, Health and Ageing, Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia and
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  • Leon Flicker

    1. Western Australian Centre for Health and Ageing, Centre for Medical Research, University of Western Australia and Western Australian Institute for Medical Research, Perth, Western Australia, Australia,
    2. School of Medicine and Pharmacology, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia, Australia,
    3. Department of Geriatric Medicine, Royal Perth Hospital, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
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Kieran A. McCaul, WA Centre for Health & Ageing (M573), University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley 6009, Western Australia, Australia. E-mail: kieran.mccaul@uwa.edu.au

ABSTRACT

Aims  To compare the effect of alcohol intake on 10-year mortality for men and women over the age of 65 years.

Design, setting and participants  Two prospective cohorts of community-dwelling men aged 65–79 years at baseline in 1996 (n = 11 727) and women aged 70–75 years in 1996 (n = 12 432).

Measurements  Alcohol was assessed according to frequency of use (number of days alcohol was consumed per week) and quantity consumed per day. Cox proportional hazards models were compared for men and women for all-cause and cause-specific mortality.

Findings  Compared with older adults who did not consume alcohol every week, the risk of all-cause mortality was reduced in men reporting up to four standard drinks per day and in women who consumed one or two drinks per day. One or two alcohol-free days per week reduced this risk further in men, but not in women. Similar results were observed for deaths due to cardiovascular disease.

Conclusions  In people over the age of 65 years, alcohol intake of four standard drinks per day for men and two standard drinks per day for women was associated with lower mortality risk. For men, the risk was reduced further if accompanied with 1 or 2 alcohol-free days per week.

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