Alcohol use and death from respiratory disease in a prospective Chinese elderly cohort study in Hong Kong

Prev Med. 2013 Dec;57(6):819-23. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2013.09.011. Epub 2013 Sep 25.


Objective: In Western settings, moderate drinking is negatively associated with respiratory disease. However, moderate drinking is socially patterned, making this association vulnerable to contextual biases. Evidence from other contexts where the typical drinking pattern is different may clarify such observations.

Methods: Multivariable Cox regression analysis was used to assess the adjusted associations of alcohol use with death from respiratory disease using a population-based prospective cohort of 66,820 Chinese aged ≥65 years enrolled from July 1998 to December 2001 at all the 18 Elderly Health Centers of the Hong Kong Government Department of Health and followed till May 30, 2012.

Results: During ten-year follow-up, 4065 deaths from respiratory disease occurred. Most current drinkers were occasional drinkers (<1 day/week). Both moderate and occasional drinking (<1 day/week) were associated with a lower risk of death from respiratory disease, but the point estimates and pattern of associations were similar between these two types of drinkers.

Conclusion: The typical drinking pattern, i.e. occasional drinking (<1 day/week), which is unlikely to have any biological effect, was similarly associated with a lower risk of respiratory disease as moderate alcohol use, suggesting the attributes of being a typical drinker may be protective.

Keywords: Alcohol; BMI; CI; COPD; HR; ICD; International Classification of Disease; Mortality; Respiratory disease; body mass index; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; confidence interval; hazard ratio.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects*
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Hong Kong / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pneumonia / etiology
  • Pneumonia / mortality
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / etiology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / mortality
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / etiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / mortality*
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors