Abstainers

Abstainers may have stopped drinking due to ill health. Empiric evidence for the argument is sparse, but it does seem reasonable that some subjects may stop drinking when they are seriously ill. Another reason to quit drinking is alcoholic dependence; some alcoholics can only keep away from drinking by total abstinence. These people will be more ill and thus more likely to die than others. Both situations will confound the relation between alcohol intake and mortality; ill health is the confounder, unequally distributed among intake groups and associated with mortality. A large number of

Alcohol consumption, drinks/wk

Figure 5 Relative risk of death from coronary heart disease (CHD) according to type of alcohol intake. Data pertain to non-wine drinkers (crosses) and wine drinkers (triangles). Relative risk is set at 1.00 among nondrinkers (<1 drink/week). Estimates were adjusted for age, sex, educational level, smoking status, body mass index, and physical activity. (Reproduced with permission from Gronbffik M et al. (2000) Type of alcohol consumed and mortality from all causes, coronary heart disease, and cancer. Annals of Internal Medicine 133: 411-419.)

0 1-7 8-21 22-35 >35 Alcohol consumption, drinks/wk

Figure 6 Relative risk of death from cancer according to type of alcohol intake. Data pertain to non-wine drinkers (crosses) and wine drinkers (triangles). Relative risk is set at 1.00 among nondrinkers (<1 drink/week). Estimates were adjusted for age, sex, educational level, smoking status, body mass index, and physical activity. (Reproduced with permission from Gronbsk M et al. (2000) Type of alcohol consumed and mortality from all causes, coronary heart disease, and cancer. Annals of Internal Medicine 133: 411-419.)

studies, however, have tried to exclude such subjects from analyses, without notable differences; that is, abstainers, or nondrinkers, still seem to be at a higher risk of death than light to moderate drinkers.

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