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PLoS One. 2012;7(8):e42083. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0042083. Epub 2012 Aug 1.

Alcohol use in adolescence and risk of disability pension: a 39 year follow-up of a population-based conscription survey.

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Division of Social Medicine, Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.



The role of alcohol consumption for disability pension (DP) is controversial and systematic reviews have not established causality. We aimed to assess the role of adolescent alcohol use for future DP. We wanted to find out whether an increased risk mainly would affect DP occurring early or late in life as well as whether the level of alcohol consumption and patterns of drinking contribute differently in DP receiving.


The study is a 39-year follow-up of 49 321 Swedish men born in 1949-1951 and conscripted for compulsory military service in 1969-1970. As study exposures (i) "risk use" of alcohol composed of measures related to pattern of drinking, and (ii) the level of consumption based on self-reported volume and frequency of drinking had been used. Information on DP was obtained from social insurance databases through 2008. "Risk use" of alcohol was associated with both "early DP" and "late DP", i.e. granted below and above the approximate age of 40 years, with crude hazard ratio (HR) of 2.89 (95% confidence intervals (CI) 2.47-3.38) and HR of 1.87 (95%CI: 1.74-2.02), respectively. After adjustment for covariates, HR was reduced to 1.32 (95%CI: 1.09-1.59) and 1.14 (95%CI: 1.05-1.25), respectively. Similar patterns were seen for moderate (101-250 g 100% alcohol/week) and high (>250 g) consumption, though the risk disappeared when fully adjusted.


Alcohol use in adolescence, particularly measured as "risk use", is associated with increased risk of future DP. The association is stronger for "early DP", but remains significant even for DP granted in older ages. Therefore, pattern of drinking in adolescent should be considered an important marker for future reduced work capacity.

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