Getting Older, Drinking Less, Study Finds

Research Summary

Participants in this comprehensive, long-term health study generally drank less as they got older and later generations drank less than their predecessors, WebMD Health News reported Aug. 6.

Study subjects also were found to drink less beer and more wine as they got older, with that shift more pronounced for men than for women. Beer made up at least half of men’s alcohol intake before they reached their mid-30s, but only about one-quarter by their mid-70s.

The study of residents of Framingham, Mass., included 50 years of data of 8,600 white adults, all of whom were born between 1900 and 1959 and were at least 28 years old when they began reporting in detail on their health and lifestyle habits.

The study found that heavier drinking gave way to moderate drinking as later generations’ behaviors were analyzed. Yet it is uncertain as to whether these findings reflect national trends, since a study published earlier this year by different researchers suggested the opposite — that alcoholism may be increasing among women born after 1953.

Researcher Yuqing Zhang, D.Sc., of the Boston University School of Medicine, said researchers did not attempt to determine why participants from each generation tended to drink less as they got older.

The study was published in the August 2008 issue of the American Journal of Medicine.

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