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Heavy Drinking Declines With Age for Some

Decline Slower for Men, Smokers

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Updated December 24, 2007

Updated December 24, 2007
Research has revealed that heavy drinking usually declines as people get older, but the rate of decline is slower for men, compared to women, and smokers, compared to non-smokers.

Previous studies have shown that people generally reduce their average alcohol consumption as they age, but researchers at UCLA wanted to determine if this decline is also seen in heavy drinkers.

The UCLA team studied 14,127 drinkers, aged 25 to 74, using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study, first administered between 1971 and 1974, with three follow-ups through 1992.

Their research showed that drinking rates declined with age more slowly for men and smokers. They also found that a higher probability of heavy drinking was associated with the following factors:

  • Unmarried.
  • Less than a high school education.
  • Annual income below the median.
  • Not living in the Southeastern U.S. The study showed that heavy drinking declined if the participants in the study got married or quit smoking between the follow-up surveys.

    Although earlier studies found that a larger percentage of educated and higher income people drink, they are less likely to be heavy drinkers.

    "Our study suggests that more educated people and those with higher income use alcohol regularly and moderately, while those with less income and education are more likely to drink heavily," said Dr. Arun Karlamangla, assistant professor of geriatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

    Source: The UCLA study was published in November 2005 in the online edition of journal Addiction

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