(HealthDay News) — For older adults, light-to-moderate drinking does not have a protective effect on mortality after adjustment for health status and physical activity, according to a study published online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Antonio Muscari, MD, from the University of Bologna in Italy, and colleagues examined the correlation between light-to-moderate alcohol consumption and mortality in a prospective, longitudinal study among individuals aged 65 and older. Data were included for 2,318 abstainers and 2,309 light-to-moderate drinkers (no more than 2 alcoholic units/day). Follow-up information was obtained from 2,752 survivors 6 years later; mortality information was obtained from death certificates.

The researchers observed independent correlations for male sex, being physically active, and good health status with light-to-moderate drinking (P < 0.001). In the unadjusted analysis, there was an apparent protective effect of light-to-moderate drinking on mortality; this persisted after adjustment for age, sex, risk factors, and cardiovascular events (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.77; 95% confidence interval, 0.68 to 0.88; P < 0.001). The relationship was no longer significant after adjustment for physical activity (Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly) and perceived health status (visual analog scale) (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.92; 95% confidence interval, 0.80 to 1.05; P = 0.19).

“After accounting for health status and physical activity, light-to-moderate alcohol drinking had no direct protective effect on mortality,” the authors write.


  1. Muscari A, Bianchi G, Conte C, et al. No Direct Survival Effect of Light to Moderate Alcohol Drinking in Community-Dwelling Older Adults. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. doi:10.1111/jgs.13837.