Drinking and Frailty: Alcohol Reduces Risk of Becoming Frail

Are alcohol drinking and frailty linked? Does drinking reduce our chances of becoming frail as we age? That’s an important question. Being frail often leads to fractures among older people. Many times these fractures begin a downward spiral of health problems leading to death.

Visit Drinking Alcohol and Risk of Frailty.

The Study: Drinking and Frailty

To look at drinking and frailty, researchers examined four studies. Those studies had a total of 44,051 people. All were age 55 or older and none lived in any type of institution. Slightly over 66% were alcohol drinkers.

The four studies were all prospective. That is, they measured drinking at the beginning of their study. Then they measured frailty years later at the end of the study. Three of the studies measured the amount of alcohol people drank. One measured how often people drank.

The results generally formed a U-shaped pattern. Moderate drinkers had the lowest risk of frailty over time. That’s compared to abstainers. But the heaviest drinkers had an increased risk of frailty. It was equal to that of the non-drinkers.

What is Frailty?

drinking and frailty There is no standard medical definition of frailty. A Supreme Court Justice said it well. It’s hard to define pornography. But he knew it when he saw it. So it’s hard to define frailty. Yet we seem to know it when we see it.

But here are common signs of frailty.

    • Unintentional weight loss.
    • Muscle weakness.
    • Physical slowness.
    • Poor endurance.
    • Low physical activity.

Reducing frailty can reduce personal suffering and reduce the medical cost burden. Thus, it is both humane and practical.

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Study

Kojima, G., et al. A review and meta-analysis of prospective associations between alcohol consumption and incident frailty. Age Ageing.