Alcohol consumption and mortality among middle-aged and elderly Japanese men and women

Ann Epidemiol. 2005 Sep;15(8):590-7. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2004.10.010. Epub 2005 Jan 23.


Purpose: We conducted a prospective cohort study to examine the association between alcohol intake and the risk of all-cause mortality among middle-aged and elderly Japanese men and women.

Methods: At baseline (1988-1990), a total of 110,792 Japanese men and women aged 40 to 79 years were asked to complete a questionnaire that included information on alcohol intake, and were followed up for all-cause mortality through December 31, 1999. Relative risks (95% confidence interval) were calculated using Cox proportional-hazards models.

Results: The risk of all-cause mortality was lowest among current drinkers with an alcohol intake of 0.1 to 22.9 g/d (RR, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.72-0.88 for men; and RR, 0.88; 95% CI, 0.77-1.00 for women). Excessive mortality associated with heavy drinking (> or = 69 g/d) was observed for cancer, cardiovascular disease and injuries and other external causes in men, while significantly reduced mortality with light drinking was seen for cancer in men and CVD in women. For men, the benefit associated with light alcohol consumption (< 23 g/d) was more apparent among nonsmokers than among smokers.

Conclusion: Our prospective data show a 12% to 20% decreased risk of all-cause mortality in both Japanese men and women who consumed less than 23 g/d of alcohol (approximately 2 drinks), although heavy drinking increased that risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality*
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Smoking
  • Surveys and Questionnaires