J-Shaped Association for Alcohol, Mortality in Older Adults

Lifetime never or infrequent drinkers, heavy, very heavy drinkers had increased risk versus light drinkers

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TUESDAY, June 19, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- In older adults there is a J-shaped association between alcohol and mortality, according to a study published online June 19 in PLOS Medicine.

Andrew T. Kunzmann, Ph.D., from Queen's University Belfast in the United Kingdom, and colleagues examined the correlation between average lifetime alcohol intakes and risk of cancer incidence and mortality in a population-based cohort study using data from 99,654 adults aged 55 to 74 years.

The researchers identified 9,599 deaths and 12,763 primary cancers during 836,740 person-years of follow-up (median, 8.9 years). There were positive linear correlations between lifetime alcohol consumption and cancer-related mortality and total cancer incidence. Average lifetime alcohol consumption had a J-shaped association with overall mortality, cardiovascular-related mortality, and combined risk of death or cancer. Increased overall mortality and combined risk of cancer or death was seen for lifetime never or infrequent drinkers (less than one drink per week) as well as heavy (two to less than three drinks/day) and very heavy drinkers (three or more drinks/day), compared with lifetime light alcohol drinkers (one to three drinks/week). The corresponding hazard ratios were 1.09, 1.07, 1.08, and 1.20 for never drinkers, infrequent drinkers, heavy drinkers, and very heavy drinkers.

"The results indicate that intakes below one drink per day were associated with the lowest risk of death," the authors write.

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