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A systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective associations between alcohol consumption and incident frailty

A team of researchers in Finland examined the relationship between alcohol consumption and frailty relationship longitudinally from midlife to old age.

Data of reported alcohol consumption in midlife (year 1974) and in old age (years 2000 and 2003) were available from a socioeconomically homogenous sample of 2,360 men, born 1919-34 and included in the Helsinki Businessmen Study. Alcohol consumption was divided into zero (N = 131 at baseline), light (1-98 g/week, N = 920), moderate (99-196, N = 593), and high consumption (>196, n = 716). Incidence of phenotypic frailty and prefrailty was assessed in 2000 and 2003.

During a 30-year follow-up, high consumption clearly decreased whereas lighter consumption remained stable. High consumption in midlife predicted both frailty (odds ratio = 1.61, 95% confidence interval = 1.01-2.56) and prefrailty (1.42; 1.06-1.92) in 2000, association with zero and moderate consumption was insignificant. Cross-sectionally in 2000, both zero (2.08; 1.17-3.68) and high consumption (1.83; 1.07- 3.13) were associated with frailty, while in 2003 only zero consumption showed this association (2.47; 1.25-4.88).

The relationship between alcohol and frailty is a paradox during the life course, the authors conclude. High consumption in midlife predicts old age frailty. And zero consumption in old age is associated with frailty, probably reflecting reverse causality.

Source: Alcohol consumption in midlife and old age and risk of frailty: Alcohol paradox in a 30-year follow-up study. Strandberg AY, Trygg T, Pitkälä KH, Strandberg TE. Age Ageing. 2017 Oct 27:1-7. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afx165.

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