Moderate Drinking Not Safe for All

Older men with specific medical conditions may want to abstain, study suggests

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THURSDAY, April 13, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Under certain circumstances, having just two drinks twice a week can increase the risk of death for older men, according to a U.S. study.

The findings run counter to previous research that has shown a modest health benefit from moderate drinking.

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles analyzed data from a 1971-74 health survey of adults 60 and older and a follow-up survey in 1992.

They found that older men who drank moderately or heavily and had accompanying diseases that could be made worse by alcohol (such as gout or ulcers), or who took medications that could interact negatively with alcohol (such as sedatives or painkillers) were 20 percent more likely to die than men who either drank less or who drank but didn't have accompanying health conditions.

The findings appear in the May issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Previous studies have suggested that moderate drinking may reduce risks for vascular disease and death, noted study lead author Dr. Alison Moore, associate professor of geriatrics at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine.

"None of these studies have specifically looked at the interaction of alcohol use and conditions that may be unsafe with even moderate amounts of alcohol use," Moore said.

"This study shows that while moderate alcohol use may be fine for people who don't have other conditions that could be worsened by the use of alcohol, such alcohol use may not be fine if you take common medications for sleep, or for arthritis pain, or have depression, or have some gastrointestinal condition," she said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has more about alcohol and medications.

SOURCE: University of California, Los Angeles, news release, April 9, 2006

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