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Am J Med. 2016 Feb;129(2):180-186.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2015.10.013. Epub 2015 Oct 30.

Moderate Alcohol Consumption Is Not Associated with Reduced All-cause Mortality.

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Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Occupational Health, McGill University, Montreal, Canada; Royal Liverpool University Hospital, Liverpool, United Kingdom. Electronic address:



A large body of research suggests that light or moderate alcohol consumption is associated with reduced all-cause mortality. However, concerns remain that the observed relationship is due to selection bias, misclassification of ex-drinkers, or residual confounding.


The association between alcohol consumption and all-cause mortality was analyzed using Cox regression. The analysis was performed using data from the Health and Retirement Study, a longitudinal cohort of 24,029 individuals from a nationally representative sample of US adults aged more than 50 years. Drinking level was based on alcohol consumption measured at 3 points over the 4 years before the start of follow-up. Occasional drinkers-those who reported drinking on at least 1 occasion, but always less than once per week-served as the reference category. There was extensive adjustment for sociodemographic variables, health status, and functional status.


During 206,966 person-years of follow up, 7902 individuals died. No level of regular alcohol consumption was associated with reduced all-cause mortality. The hazard ratio and 95% confidence interval in fully adjusted analyses was 1.02 (0.94-1.11) for <7 drinks/week, 1.14 (1.02-1.28) for 7 to <14 drinks/week, 1.13 (0.96-1.35) for 14 to <21 drinks/week, and 1.45 (1.16-1.81) for ≥ 21 drinks/week.


Moderate alcohol consumption is not associated with reduced all-cause mortality in older adults. The previously observed association may have been due to residual confounding.


Alcohol; Cohort study; Health and Retirement Study; Mortality

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