Binge drinking ups mortality risk in older boozers
Researchers studying the link between binge drinking and death rate among older moderate drinkers have found that binge-drinking older tipsters are more than two times higher odds of 20-year mortality as compared to regular moderate drinkers.
For this study, researchers used data from a larger project examining late-life patterns of alcohol consumption and drinking problems.
The baseline sample was comprised of 446 adults (334 men, 112 women) aged 55 to 65: 74 moderate drinkers who engaged in episodic heavy drinking, and 372 regular moderate drinkers.
Study authors controlled for a broad set of socio-demographic, behavioral, and health-status covariates. Death across a 20-year follow-up period was confirmed primarily by death certificate.
The findings highlight the importance of focusing on drinking patterns, as well as absolute amounts of ethanol consumed, as predictors of health and mortality outcomes among older adults.
Corresponding author for the study Charles J. Holahan, from the University of Texas at Austin, said that the study shows that among older adults, those who engage in heavy episodic drinking a€" even when average consumption is moderate a€" show significantly increased total mortality risk compared to regular moderate drinkers.
These findings demonstrate that, among older adults, drinking patterns need to be addressed along with overall consumption in order to understand alcohol's health effects, Holahan said.
Binge drinking concentrates alcohol's toxicity and is linked to mortality by damaging body organs and increasing accident risk and it may be additionally risky for older adults due to aging-related elevations in comorbidities as well as medication use, Holahan added.
The study will be published in the online-only issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
(Posted on 04-03-2014)