Alcohol and Total Death Risk among Women

Alcohol and Total Death Risk

Most research has found a J-shaped pattern between alcohol and total death risk. That is, drinking in moderation reduces all-cause death, compared to abstaining. As drinking increases, the risk of death rises to equal that of abstaining. As drinking reaches heavy levels, the risk of death rises above that from abstaining.

It is sometimes suggested that the health benefits of moderate drinking are really caused by other factors. Perhaps moderate drinkers have better lifestyles. Perhaps they are healthier. Are less likely to smoke. Or are less likely to be obese. This is a logical suggestion. This suggestion has been tested in many studies. But the J-shaped pattern tends to remain.

Study on Alcohol and Total Death Risk

This study followed 6,916 women from five towns in southern Sweden. They were 50 to 59 years of age when recruited. The recruitment was between late 1995 to early 2000. Each participant received a physical, gave a health history, and completed a health questionnaire.

Alcohol and total deathParticipants were followed from the day of screening until death or until mid-2015.

The typical J-shaped relationship was found. Researchers controlled or adjusted for body mass index (a good measure  of body fat), physical fitness, smoking, education and marital status. They also adjusted for the existence of diabetes and ischemic heart disease before screening. Following these adjustments, the J-shape remained.

The researchers concluded that there was ‘a clear J-shaped relation between the amount of alcohol consumption and all-cause mortality’ after controlling for important risk factors.

This study adds to the strong evidence that drinking in moderation reduces the risk of mortality.

Source: Midlöv, P., et al. Women’s health in the Lund area (WHILA) ‘“ Alcohol consumption and all-cause mortality among women ‘“ a 17 year follow-up study. Pre-publication: BMC Public Health, 2016;16:22. DOI 10.1186/s12889-016-2700-2

Readings on Alcohol and Total Death Risk

Di Castelnuovo, A., et al. Alcohol dosing and total mortality in men and women. An updated meta-analysis of 34 prospective studies. Arch Int Med., 2006;166(22):2437-2445.

Holman, C.D., et al. Meta-analysis of alcohol and all-cause mortality. A validation of NHMRC recommendations.. Med J Australia, 1996, 164(3):141-145.