The study, which involved 5,404 Canadians aged 50+, found that those who drank in moderation - no more than 14 drinks per week with no more than three a day for women and four a day for men - had higher quality of life than those who abstained from alcohol. The researchers assessed health quality of life with the Health Utilities Index Mark 3 (HUI3.)
During the follow-up period, the researchers found that 31.4% of participants reduced their alcohol intake. Participants who did not report any adverse health conditions, such as cancer, stroke, heart disease, or diabetes, during the first four years of follow-up were referred to as "consistently healthy."
According to the researchers, those who consumed alcohol in moderation had the the highest quality of life at baseline. Subsequent changes in quality of life indicators were comparable across expect for those who reduced their alcohol intake.
They found that those who reduced their alcohol intake from moderate levels showed the greatest reduction in their level of health-related quality of life than those who consumed alcohol in moderation on a regular basis.
Why some participants reduced their intake or stopped drinking altogether was unknown; even though they were 'considered healthy' at baseline.
Forum reviewer Harvey Finkel comments:
"As people age, even disregarding medical obstacles, social interactions generally decrease, which leads to both less stimulation to drink and less opportunity to drink. It is thus important that the reasons that someone stops drinking, or decreases his or her intake, are taken into account."
These findings show a positive association between between moderate drinking and quality of life in middle-aged adults. However, the effects on the subsequent quality of life as one ages of continued alcohol consumption, or of reducing alcohol intake, are still not known.
Written by Grace Rattue