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Research Summary

Does Moderate Alcohol Use Help Healthy Elderly Men Live to Age 90 Years?

Although moderate alcohol use is associated with lower total mortality, it is not known whether alcohol use helps individuals survive to very old age and to function well in old age. To identify modifiable factors associated with survival to age 90 years, researchers prospectively followed 2357 men (mean age 72 years at baseline) for up to 25 years and assessed the association of self-reported baseline and follow-up characteristics with survival to age 90 years and late-life physical function.

  • Forty-one percent of participants survived to age 90 years or beyond.
  • Regular exercise and the absence of smoking, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity at baseline were associated with survival to age 90 years in age-adjusted and multivariable models.
  • Alcohol use was not associated with survival to age 90 years in the models.
  • Late-life physical function was higher in baseline daily drinkers and in those who drank 1-6 drinks per week compared with those who drank <1 drink per week, but these differences were not statistically significant.


In this study, moderate alcohol use did not help “younger” elderly men reach age 90 years or to have better physical function in late life. The study did not assess the trajectory of alcohol use before or after the baseline measurement. It is possible the potential survival benefit from moderate alcohol use is derived from alcohol use earlier in life and in those with cardiovascular risk factors.

Kevin L. Kraemer, MD, MSc


Yates LB, Djoussé L, Kurth T, et al. Exceptional longevity in men: modifiable factors associated with survival and function to age 90 years. Arch Intern Med. 2008;168(3):