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One in Three Elderly Drinkers Face High Risk of Harm, Study Finds

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One-third of American drinkers over age 60 consume excessive amounts of alcohol, are at risk of dangerous interactions between alcohol and medications, or have illnesses that can be exacerbated by drinking, according to researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

A study of 3,308 clinic patients in California found that 34.7 percent of drinkers were considered high-risk, with more than half falling into at least two of the three risk categories. Patients ages 60-64 were twice as likely to be at-risk drinkers than those over age 80, and risk was also higher among drinkers who were more affluent and less educated.

Researchers said the findings could help physicians identify at-risk patients, noting that doctors may be less aware of the problems of drug interactions and comorbidity than they are of heavy drinking among older patients.

The findings were published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine (PDF).

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