Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

CU study illuminates mortality differences between nondrinkers and light drinkers

19.07.2013
As a class, people who don't drink at all have a higher mortality risk than light drinkers. But nondrinkers are a diverse bunch, and the reasons people have for abstaining affects their individual mortality risk, in some cases lowering it on par with the risk for light drinkers, according to a University of Colorado study.

Multiple studies have shown that the likelihood of dying for people who drink increases as they consume more alcohol. Those same studies have shown that a person's mortality risk also increases at the other end of the spectrum — among people who choose not to drink at all — though the risk is still much less than for heavy drinkers.

Some researchers have hypothesized that the increased mortality among nondrinkers could be related to the fact that light alcohol consumption — drinking, on average, less than one drink a day — might actually protect people from disease and reduce their stress levels.

But researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder, working with colleagues at the University of Colorado Denver, decided to examine whether characteristics of different subgroups of nondrinkers could explain the increased mortality risk.

"Among nondrinkers, people have all sorts of background reasons for why they don't drink," said sociology Professor Richard Rogers, director of CU-Boulder's Population Program in the Institute of Behavioral Science. "We wanted to tease that out because it's not really informative to just assume that nondrinkers are a unified group."

For the new study, published in last month's issue of the journal Population Research and Policy Review, Rogers and his colleagues relied on data collected in 1988 by the National Health Interview Survey about the drinking habits of more than 41,000 people from across the United States. The researchers also had access to information about which respondents died between taking the survey and 2006.

During the survey, nondrinkers were asked to provide their reasons for not drinking. Possible answers ranged from "don't socialize very much" to "am an alcoholic" to "religious or moral reasons."

The research team divided nondrinkers into three general categories: "abstainers," or people who have never had more than 12 drinks in their lives; "infrequent drinkers," or people who have fewer than 12 drinks a year; and "former drinkers." Each category was further divided using a statistical technique that grouped people together who gave similar clusters of reasons for not drinking.

The team then calculated the mortality risk for each subgroup compared with the mortality risk for light drinkers, and they found that the risks varied markedly.

Abstainers who chose not to drink for a cluster of reasons that included religious or moral motivations, being brought up not to drink, responsibilities to their family, as well as not liking the taste, had similar mortality risks over the follow-up period to light drinkers.

"So this idea that nondrinkers always have higher mortality than light drinkers isn't true," Rogers said. "You can find some groups of nondrinkers who have similar mortality risks to light drinkers."

The other subgroup of abstainers — whose largest reason for not drinking appeared to be a dislike of the taste and to a lesser degree family responsibilities, religious or moral motivations or upbringing — had a 17 percent higher mortality risk over the follow-up period compared with light drinkers.

The scientists also found that infrequent drinkers generally had a slightly higher mortality risk than light drinkers. Former drinkers, however, had the highest mortality risk of all nondrinkers. Former drinkers whose cluster of reasons for not drinking now included being an alcoholic and problems with drinking, for example, had a 38 percent higher mortality risk than light drinkers over the follow-up period.

By comparison, people who drink between one and two drinks per day, on average, have a 9 percent higher mortality rate than light drinkers, while people who drink between two and three drinks per day have a 49 percent higher mortality. People who consume more than three drinks per day had a 58 percent higher mortality risk over the follow-up period compared with light drinkers.

Despite confirming that some subgroups of nondrinkers have a higher mortality rate than light drinkers, it doesn't necessarily follow that those people's mortality rates would fall if they began drinking, Rogers said. For example, people who were problem drinkers in the past might increase their mortality risk further by starting to drink again.

Also, people who don't drink at all, as a group, have lower socioeconomic characteristics than light drinkers, which could be one of the underlying causes for the mortality differences, Rogers said. In that case, starting to drink without changing a person's socioeconomic status also would not likely lower mortality rates.

"I think the idea that drinking could be somewhat beneficial seems like it's overstated," Rogers said. "There may be other factors that lower mortality for light drinkers. It's not just the act of drinking."

Co-authors of the study include Robert Kemp and Elizabeth Lawrence from CU-Boulder and Patrick Krueger and Richard Miech from CU Denver.

Richard Rogers | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.colorado.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>