Apr 15

Elderly Drinkers at High Risk

One in Three Elderly Drinkers Face High Risk of Harm, Study Finds

One-third of drinkers over age 60 consume excessive amounts of alcohol, are at risk of dangerous interactions between alcohol and medications, or have illnesses that can be made worse by drinking, according to researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

A study of 3,308 clinic patients in California found that 34.7% of drinkers were considered high-risk, with more than half falling into at least two of the three risk categories. Patients ages 60-64 were twice as likely to be at-risk drinkers than those over age 80, and risk was also higher among drinkers who were more affluent and less educated.

The findings were published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

From; Join Together

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Mar 27

Peers Influence Older Adults Drinking Habits

Peer Influence, Other Social Factors Can Affect Drinking Among Older Adults

As with underage drinking, social factors can help predict excessive drinking among older adults, according to new research from Rudolf H. Moos of the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care System in Palo Alto, Calif.

Moos and colleagues studied 719 men and women ages 55 to 65 over a 20-year period and found that those with more money, a more active social life, and friends who approved of drinking were more likely to engage in risky or excessive drinking.

"Older adults who engage in high-risk alcohol consumption tend to select friends who are more likely to drink and to approve of drinking," said Moos.

Charles J. Holahan, a professor in the department of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin said the findings "demonstrate that a spouse and friends can make a constructive difference in later life drinking. However, a spouse and friends can also unwittingly become caught up as facilitators in the process of later life drinking."

The study is available online in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

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Mar 15

Seniors and Alcohol

Elderly man using wall to hold himself steady Senior Health site offers information about older adults and alcohol use

Having a drink now and then as you get older is not usually thought to be harmful, but alcohol can be a problem for older adults, especially if they take certain medications, have health problems or don’t control their drinking. Alcohol Use and Older Adults, http://NIH Senior Health.gov/alcoholuse/toc.html, the newest topic on NIH Senior Health, provides helpful information about the effect alcohol may have on our bodies, health and lifestyles as we age.

  • Aging lowers the body’s tolerance for alcohol, and older adults can develop problems with alcohol even though their drinking habits haven’t changed.
  • Older adults can experience the effects of alcohol, such as slurred speech and lack of coordination, more quickly than when they were younger.
  • If you’re older and you drink, it is important to understand the implications this may have for your health, safety, relationships and lifestyle.

The newest topic on NIH Senior Health provides an excellent overview of these issues in a format that is tailored for older adults.

Besides information on alcohol and aging, NIH Senior Health also discusses how much is safe to drink for most older men and women, what precautions to take if they’re on medication and how to get help if drinking is a problem.

Older people are increasingly turning to the Internet for health information. In fact, more than 70 percent of online seniors look for health and medical information when they go on the Web.

NIH Senior Health (http://NIH Senior Health.gov/alcoholuse/toc.html), which is based on the latest research on thinking and aging, features short, easy-to-read segments of information that can be accessed in a number of formats, including various

  • large-print type sizes,
  • open-captioned videos and an
  • audio version.

Additional topics coming soon to the site include long-term care, anxiety disorders and peripheral arterial disease.

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Feb 26

Alcohol Increases Breast Cancer Repeat Risk

Alcohol consumption increases risk of breast cancer recurrence

Moderate to heavy consumption of alcoholic beverages (at least three to four drinks per week) is associated with a 1.3 times increased risk of breast cancer recurrence. Women who are post-menopausal or overweight may be most susceptible to the effects of alcohol on recurrence. Drinking less than three drinks per week was not associated with an increased risk.

Based on these findings, Marilyn L. Kwan, Ph.D., staff scientist in the Division of Research at Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, Calif., suggested, “women previously diagnosed with breast cancer should consider limiting their consumption of alcohol to less than three drinks per week, especially women who are postmenopausal and overweight or obese.”

Previous research has shown that consumption of alcohol is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, but there are limited studies to date about alcohol’s role in patient prospects and survival among those already diagnosed with breast cancer. Kwan and colleagues examined the effects of alcohol on cancer recurrence and mortality in the Life After Cancer Epidemiology (LACE) Study.

Information on wine, beer and liquor consumption was documented via questionnaire. Each year, participants also filled out information on health outcomes, including recurrence of breast cancer, which was then verified by their medical records.

After eight years of follow-up, Kwan and colleagues found 349 breast cancer recurrences and 332 deaths. Among drinkers (50 percent of the study population), wine was the most popular choice of alcohol (90 percent), followed by liquor (43 percent) then beer (36 percent). Increased risk of cancer recurrence was most predominant among those who consumed two or more glasses of wine per day.

The increased risk of recurrence appeared to be greater among participants who were postmenopausal and overweight or obese, and was present regardless of type of alcohol. Alcohol consumption was not associated with overall mortality.

“These results can help women make a more informed decision about lifestyle choices after a diagnosis of breast cancer,” said Kwan.

From a press release by EurekAlert.

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Feb 12

Binge Drinking


One in six adults binge drinks about four times a month, and on average the largest number of drinks consumed is eight.

New estimates show that binge drinking is a bigger problem than previously thought. More than 38 million U.S. adults binge drink, about 4 times a month, and on average the largest number of drinks consumed is eight. Binge drinking is defined as consuming four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men over a short period of time.

As reported in this month’s Vital Signs, the CDC found that those who were thought less likely to binge drink actually engage in this behavior more often and consume more drinks when they do. While binge drinking is more common among young adults aged 18–34 years, binge drinkers aged 65 years and older report binge drinking more often—an average of five to six times a month. Similarly, while binge drinking is more common among those with household incomes of $75,000 or more, the largest number of drinks consumed on an occasion is significantly higher among binge drinkers with household incomes less than $25,000—an average of eight to nine drinks per occasion, far beyond the amount thought to induce intoxication.

Binge drinking is a dangerous and costly public health problem.
  • It is important to consider the amount people drink when they binge and how often they do so.
  • Most alcohol-impaired drivers binge drink.
  • Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent or alcoholics.
  • More than half of the alcohol adults drink is while binge drinking.
  • More than 90% of the alcohol youth drink is while binge drinking.
Binge drinking costs everyone.
  • Drinking too much, including binge drinking, causes more than 80,000 deaths in the United States each year.
  • Drinking too much, including binge drinking, cost the United States $223.5 billion in 2006, or $1.90 a drink, from losses in productivity, health care, crime, and other expenses.
  • Binge drinking cost federal, state, and local governments about 62 cents per drink in 2006, while federal and state income from taxes on alcohol totaled only about 12 cents per drink.
  • Drinking too much contributes to more than 54 different injuries and diseases, including car crashes, violence, and sexually transmitted diseases. Over time, binge drinking also can lead to liver disease, certain cancers, heart disease, stroke, and many other chronic health problems.
  • The chance of getting sick and dying from alcohol problems increases significantly for those who binge drink more often and drink more when they do.

More information at Binge Drinking

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