Alcohol and Frailty: Drinking Reduces Risk

It could be expected that alcohol and frailty are linked. That’s because moderate to heavy drinking reduces risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. These diseases contribute greatly to frailty among older people.

Study on Alcohol and Frailty Risk

This study looked at patterns of drinking alcohol and frailty. Researchers followed a total of 2,086 community-living adults age 60 and older for an average of 3.3 years.

Moderate drinking was having slightly under three drinks per day for men. It was  a little under two drinks per day for women. (This is much higher than the U.S. federal guidelines.) A Mediterranean drinking pattern was defined as moderate alcohol consumption and only with meals. This is a very loose definition.

alcohol and risk of frailty
The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

Frailty was defined as having two or more of following criteria from the Fried frailty index.1

    • Self-reported exhaustion.
    • Measured muscle weakness.
    • Low level of physical activity.
    • Slow walking speed.

During the follow-up period, 292 people had developed frailty. Compared to non-drinkers, moderate drinkers had a 10% reduced risk of becoming frail. Compared with abstainers, those who followed the Mediterranean drinking pattern had a 32% reduction in risk.

Reducing Frailty Important

Reducing the risk of frailty is important. Frailty is a strong predictor of falls, acute illness, disabilities, institutionalization, and death.2 Reducing  frailty would reduce great burdens on victims, their families, and society.

The researchers concluded that drinking alcohol and frailty are linked. Alcohol reduces reduces frailty risk. And also that following a Mediterranean pattern of drinking reduces risk frailty greatly among older adults.

Bottom line on alcohol and frailty? Drinking alcohol reduces risk of frailty.


    1. Fried, L., et al. Frailty in older adults: evidence for a phenotype. J Ger. Series A, Bio Sci Med Sci, 56:M146-M156.
    2. van Iersel, M., & Rikkert, M. Frailty criteria give heterogeneous results when applied in clinical practice. J Am Ger Soc, 54(4), 728-729.
    • At this point, you know much more about alcohol and frailty than most people. Kudos!
    • Mediterranean Diet Pyramid courtesy of Oldways. It has developed Latin American, African, Asian, and Vegetarian/Vegan pyramids.