Heavier Alcohol Intake Linked to Lower Frailty Risk

Heavier alcohol consumption might reduce the risk of frailty in older adults, according to the findings of a recent study.

In their systematic review, the researchers identified 4 studies that examined the association between baseline alcohol consumption and subsequent frailty risk among a total of 44,051 participants 55 years of age and older (66.2% of participants consumed alcohol). They calculated the odds ratios (OR) for frailty and compared the highest with the lowest alcohol consumption.

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Compared with no alcohol consumption, the highest alcohol consumption was associated with a lower risk for frailty (pooled OR: 0.44, 95% CI= 0.19-1.00). This was not attenuated after the researchers adjusted for the frequency of alcohol consumption (pooled OR 0.61, 95% CI= 0.44-0.77).

In addition, the researchers found that 2 of the studies suggested a possible U-shaped association with the lowest risk for moderate drinkers. All studies had moderate heterogeneity and no evidence of publication bias.

“This systematic review and meta-analysis study provides the first pooled evidence suggesting that heavier alcohol consumption is associated with lower incident frailty compared with no alcohol consumption among community-dwelling middle-aged and older people,” the researchers concluded. “However, this association may be due to unadjusted effect measures, residual confounding, ‘sick quitter’ effect or survival bias.”

Melissa Weiss


Kojima G, Liljas A, Iliffe S, Jivraj S, Walters K. A systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective associations between alcohol consumption and incident frailty. Age and Ageing. 2018;47(1): 26–34.