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Aust N Z J Med. 1996 Oct;26(5):662-70.

Alcohol intake and survival in the elderly: a 77 month follow-up in the Dubbo study.

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University of New South Wales Lipid Research Department, St. Vincent's Hospital, Sydney.



A prospective study in non-institutionalised Australian elderly aged 60 years and over commenced in Dubbo, NSW in 1988.


To examine the relationship between all-causes mortality and alcohol intake.


The data were derived from a community-based sample comprising 1236 men and 1569 women followed for a median period of 77 months. Regular alcohol intake was reported by 78% of men and 52% of women. Eighty-seven per cent of men and 44% of women primarily drank beer.


Death occurred in 305 men and 236 women, 34% and 39% respectively from coronary heart disease (CHD). In a proportional hazards model, the hazard ratio (HR) for all-causes mortality in male drinkers, compared with abstainers, was 0.75 at one-seven drinks/week, 0.76 at eight-14 drinks/week, 0.69 at 15-28 drinks/week and 0.49 at > 28 drinks/week (p < 0.04), an inverse relationship. In female drinkers, HR was 0.78 at one-seven drinks/week, 0.49 at eight-14 drinks/week (p < 0.04) and 0.62 at 15-28 drinks/weeks, potentially a U shaped relationship. The effect on all-causes mortality could not be attributed to a differential effect of beer versus wine/spirit intake. Although the mortality rate was lower in those taking any alcohol compared with abstainers, those taking any alcohol exhibited an increased proportion of deaths due to cancer at the expense of a reduced proportion of CHD and stroke deaths.


Alcohol intake in the Dubbo elderly appears to be independently associated with a significant increase in life expectancy. Mechanisms underlying the effect may emerge at a longer interval of follow-up.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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