(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 Nov. 23 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Antonio Muscari, M.D., 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 two alcoholic units/day). Follow-up information was obtained from 2,752 survivors six 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 percent 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 percent 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.

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