Aging Clinical and Experimental Research

, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 426–433 | Cite as

Old people, alcohol use and mortality. A ten-year prospective study

  • Eija Tolvanen
  • Kaija Seppä
  • Tomi Lintonen
  • Paula Paavilainen
  • Marja Jylhä
Section on Longitudinal Studies


Background and aims: Several studies suggest an association between lower mortality and moderate drinking, particularly wine-drinking, compared with abstainers, in middle-aged populations. The aim of this study was to examine the association of drinking frequencies and beverage types with all-cause mortality among old people. Methods: A prospective population study with a 10-year follow-up of mortality was carried out in the city of Tampere, Finland, population approximately 180,000. The sample consisted of 365 men and 402 women aged 60–99 years. All-cause mortality was used as the main outcome measure. Results: Death occurred in 182 men and 158 women. Mortality was lowest among frequent and occasional drinkers, second lowest among abstainers, and highest among ex-drinkers. In a Cox proportional hazard model, drinking showed an independent protective effect on mortality. After adjustment for age, sex, educational level, marital status, chronic diseases, functional ability and smoking, the relative risk (RR) of mortality for frequent drinkers was 0.6 (95% CI 0.4–0.8), for occasional drinkers 0.7 (95% CI 0.5–1.0) and for ex-drinkers 1.1 (95% CI 0.8–1.7), compared with abstainers. Adjusted for other mortality risk factors, the mortality of those who drank wine was lower than that of abstainers. Conclusions: Findings suggest that drinking, and perhaps wine-drinking in particular, is associated with lower mortality even in old age. Future studies are needed to identify the possible role of background characteristics of different drinking pattern groups.


Alcohol beverage type life-style longitudinal mortality wine 


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Copyright information

© Springer Internal Publishing Switzerland 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eija Tolvanen
    • 1
  • Kaija Seppä
    • 2
    • 4
  • Tomi Lintonen
    • 1
  • Paula Paavilainen
    • 1
  • Marja Jylhä
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Tampere School of Public HealthUniversity of TampereFinland
  2. 2.Medical School, University of TampereFinland
  3. 3.Tampere University Research UnitTampereFinland
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryTampere University HospitalFinland

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