Heavy Drinking Declines With Age
In a new study, UCLA scientists, while noting that heavy drinking declined with age, found it fell more slowly among men compared with women and among smokers compared with nonsmokers. A higher probability of heavy drinking was associated with being unmarried, having less than a high school education, having an annual income below the median and living outside the Southeastern United States. Heavy drinking also declined faster among those who got married or quit smoking between follow-ups.
Earlier studies have found that more educated people and those with higher incomes drink more on average; yet this study showed that they are less likely to be heavy drinkers. Regular moderate drinking - about one or two glasses of wine per day, four or more days per week - is probably beneficial to cardiovascular health, while heavy drinking can be harmful, said Dr. Arun Karlamangla, assistant professor of geriatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and the study's lead author. "Our study suggests that more educated people and those with higher income use alcohol regularly and moderately, while those with less income and education are more likely to drink heavily," Karlamangla said. "The benefits of drinking will be seen by the rich, the harm by the poor." This is also the first study to show that heavy drinking behavior can be changed: Those who got married or quit smoking during the study also reduced their heavy drinking.
Others in addition to Karlamangla are Drs. David Reuben, professor and chief of geriatrics; Gail Greendale, professor of geriatrics; and Alison Moore, associate professor of geriatrics; and Kefei Zhou, research assistant in geriatrics. All are in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
The research is now available on the online edition of Addiction, http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1360-0443.2005.01299.x.