A life‐time of hazardous drinking and harm to health among older adults: findings from the Whitehall II prospective cohort study.

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      Aims: To investigate associations of life‐time hazardous and binge drinking with biomarkers of cardiometabolic health, liver function, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and mortality. Design Prospective cohort study with median follow‐up time to CVD incidence of 4.5 years. Setting: London, UK: civil servants within the Whitehall II Study. Participants: A total of 4820 drinkers aged 59–83 years with biological measurements during the 2011–12 survey. Measurements Hazardous drinking was defined as having an AUDIT‐C score ≥ 5 calculated at each decade of life, forming the following groups: never hazardous drinker, former early (stopping before age 50), former later (stopping after age 50), current hazardous drinker and consistent hazardous drinker (hazardous drinker at each decade of life). Findings More than half the sample had been hazardous drinkers at some point during their life‐time, comprising former early (< age 50) (19%), former later (≥ age 50) (11%), current (21%) and consistent hazardous drinker (AUDIT‐C ≥ 5 across life (5%). After adjusting for covariates, waist circumference was larger with more persistent hazardous drinking (e.g. compared with never hazardous drinkers, former early had increased waist circumference by 1.17 cm [95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.25‐2.08]; former later by 1.88 cm (CI = 0.77–2.98); current by 2.44 cm (CI = 1.50–3.34) and consistent hazardous drinker by 3.85 cm (CI = 2.23–5.47). Current hazardous drinkers had higher systolic blood pressure (2.44 mmHg, CI = 1.19–3.68) and fatty liver index scores (4.05 mmHg, CI = 2.92–5.18) than never hazardous drinkers. Current hazardous drinkers [hazard ratio (HR) = 2.75, CI = 1.44–5.22) had an elevated risk of stroke, and former later hazardous drinkers had an elevated risk of non‐CVD mortality (HR = 1.93, CI = 1.19–3.14) than never hazardous drinkers. Life‐time binge drinking was associated with larger waist circumferences and poorer liver function compared with never binge drinkers. Conclusion: Hazardous drinking may increase cardiometabolic risk factors; this is made worse by persistent hazardous drinking throughout life, particularly in relation to weight gain, suggesting benefits of early intervention. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
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