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PLoS Med. 2011 Sep;8(9):e1001090. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001090. Epub 2011 Sep 6.

Alcohol consumption at midlife and successful ageing in women: a prospective cohort analysis in the nurses' health study.

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1
Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America. qisun@hsph.harvard.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Observational studies have documented inverse associations between moderate alcohol consumption and risk of premature death. It is largely unknown whether moderate alcohol intake is also associated with overall health and well-being among populations who have survived to older age. In this study, we prospectively examined alcohol use assessed at midlife in relation to successful ageing in a cohort of US women.

METHODS AND FINDINGS:

Alcohol consumption at midlife was assessed using a validated food frequency questionnaire. Subsequently, successful ageing was defined in 13,894 Nurses' Health Study participants who survived to age 70 or older, and whose health status was continuously updated. "Successful ageing" was considered as being free of 11 major chronic diseases and having no major cognitive impairment, physical impairment, or mental health limitations. Analyses were restricted to the 98.1% of participants who were not heavier drinkers (>45 g/d) at midlife. Of all eligible study participants, 1,491 (10.7%) achieved successful ageing. After multivariable adjustment of potential confounders, light-to-moderate alcohol consumption at midlife was associated with modestly increased odds of successful ageing. The odds ratios (95% confidence interval) were 1.0 (referent) for nondrinkers, 1.11 (0.96-1.29) for ≤ 5.0 g/d, 1.19 (1.01-1.40) for 5.1-15.0 g/d, 1.28 (1.03-1.58) for 15.1-30.0 g/d, and 1.24 (0.87-1.76) for 30.1-45.0 g/d. Meanwhile, independent of total alcohol intake, participants who drank alcohol at regular patterns throughout the week, rather than on a single occasion, had somewhat better odds of successful ageing; for example, the odds ratios (95% confidence interval) were 1.29 (1.01-1.64) and 1.47 (1.14-1.90) for those drinking 3-4 days and 5-7 days per week in comparison with nondrinkers, respectively, whereas the odds ratio was 1.10 (0.94-1.30) for those drinking only 1-2 days per week.

CONCLUSIONS:

These data suggest that regular, moderate consumption of alcohol at midlife may be related to a modest increase in overall health status among women who survive to older ages.

PMID:
21909248
PMCID:
PMC3167795
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pmed.1001090
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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