Some Alcohol Consumption Shows Benefit for Older Adults

Young adults aged 15-34 years derive no significant health benefits from alcohol consumption, but moderate drinking may benefit the over-40 crowd, according to a new analysis.

The health risks and benefits of moderate alcohol consumption are complex and remain a hot topic of debate. The data suggest that small amounts of alcohol may reduce the risk of certain health outcomes over time, but increase the risk of others.

Dana Bryazka, MS, a researcher at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, Seattle, and colleagues studied the risks and benefits of alcoholism-level according by amount, geography, age and sex. 

The researchers conducted a systematic analysis of burden-weighted dose-response relative risk curves across 22 health outcomes. They used disease rates from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) 2020 for the years 1990-2020 for 21 regions, including 204 countries and territories. The data were analyzed by 5-year age group, sex, and year for individuals aged 15-95 years and older. 

For adults aged 40 and older without any underlying health conditions, drinking a small amount of alcohol may provide some benefits, such as reducing the risk of ischemic heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, the researchers noted. They also found that those individuals consuming harmful amounts of alcohol were most likely to be aged 15-39 (59.1%) and male (76.9%).

This study provides us with the data to adjust our efforts in educating the clinicians and the public about the relationship between alcohol consumption and disease outcomes based on the observed disease rates in each population. The data also can help clinicians formulate public health messaging and community education to reduce harmful alcohol use.


Dana Bryazka and GBD 2020 Alcohol Collaborators (july 16, 2022). Population-level risks of alcohol consumption by amount, geography, age, sex, and year: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2020. The Lancet 


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