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UCLA study shows that people drink less alcohol as they age

ucation and income, and who smoked, tended to drink more than others. But the researchers also noted that the faster age-related decline in alcohol consumption took place among married males with less education, who smoked and were born in earlier years.

There are a number of reasons for the overall age-related decline in drinking, Moore said. For instance, some people simply stop drinking as they age and others become too ill to drink. "Another reason is people cut down because they don't feel as good when they drink, or are told by their doctors or pharmacists not to drink with a particular medication," she said.

One theory that could explain the disparity in drinking patterns between the earlier and later born groups is that earlier generations tended to drink more. The culture of drinking has changed over time. "My parents had cocktail hour," Moore said. "We don't have that anymore."

But the later-born generation is healthier and more accustomed to better healthcare, so they feel safer in drinking more as they age. "I think people in general are healthier than they used to be," Moore said. "They're drinking for longer periods because they're healthier." However, not all older adults who drink are doing so safely as with increased age, they are more likely to have conditions that could be worsened by alcohol use (such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, depression or insomnia), and to be taking medications that may negatively interact with alcohol (such as most arthritis medications that may cause stomach bleeding with alcohol use).

Other researchers from the David Geffen School of Medicine, in addition to Moore, were Drs. David B. Reuben, professor of medicine and chief of the geriatrics division; Gail Greendale, professor of medicine (geriatrics); and Arun Karlamangla, assistant professor of medicine (geriatrics). Others were data analysts Kefei Zhou and M. Kallin Carter, and Robert Gould of the UCLA department of statistics.
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22-Feb-2005


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