Drinking Declines with Age, Study Finds

Alcohol consumption generally declines as people age, partly because alcohol affects the bodies of older people in different ways, say researchers from UCLA.

The New York Times reported March 1 that the study authors looked at surveys from 14,100 people who were asked about their drinking habits over a 20-year period. Drinking steadily declined as the study participants aged, the researchers found.

People ease their alcohol consumption “because they don't feel as good when they drink,” postulated Alison A. Moore, the study's lead author. Some older drinkers also may be cutting their consumption because they don't want to aggravate a medical condition or mix alcohol with prescription medications.

However, the study also found that the next cadre of aging drinkers may not be cutting back as much as their older peers did. Moore said this may be because they just aren't drinking as much to begin with, or because their overall health is better as they age.

The study appears in the March 2005 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Moore, A., et al. (2005) Longitudinal Patterns and Predictors of Alcohol Consumption in the United States. American Journal of Public Health, 95(3): 458-465.

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