Alcohol is a key risk factor for chronic disease and injury globally, with a higher proportion of alcohol-attributable deaths and disease burden in Europe than any other region of the world. In this project, we examined links between alcohol use and health, addressing key questions relevant to alcohol and health policy from adolescence through midlife. Benefits of light to moderate drinking have received considerable media attention and are sometimes acknowledged in physician and government health advice.
Two connected streams of research extended our prior National Institutes of Health-funded work on predictors and consequences of alcohol use in the British cohort studies and facilitate closer collaboration with Centre for Longitudinal Studies investigators at the University College London. Using over five decades of data covering childhood through midlife, our U.S.-based team assessed short- and long-term impacts of alcohol use on health-risk behaviors, mental health, and physical health.
Data were used to determine whether levels of alcohol use in midlife boost or compromise health up to age 55 (e.g., chronic conditions, BMI, depression, overall health), even after matching on observed characteristics such as prior health, work history, educational attainment, social support, and health-risk behaviors.