How Alcohol Affects Life Expectancy -

Abstinence from alcohol dramatically increases life expectancy

Drinking regularly in middle age reduces the likelihood of living to 90 or more. Life expectancy is affected by relatively low levels of habitual alcohol consumption, but this does not appear to be the case for wine consumption.

Researchers from the Arctic University of Norway examined the effects of alcohol consumption on life expectancy or survival to age 90 in men. Beer and spirits therefore have an extremely detrimental effect on life expectancy. The results of the corresponding study were published in the "Scandinavian Journal of Public Health".

The controversial effects of alcohol consumption on health

In recent years there have been sometimes controversial discussions about the health effects of moderate or low alcohol consumption, with a recent study clearly showing that alcohol only has harms for people under 40 .

Impact on life expectancy analyzed

Using data from 778 men from the Tromsø study from 1979 to 1980 and with follow-up to 2019, the Norwegian research team has now analyzed the effects of alcohol consumption on life expectancy.

Information on the frequency of alcohol consumption in the form of beer, wine and spirits as well as information on the frequency of alcohol intoxication was available for all participants. “The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of habitual alcohol consumption in midlife on age 90,” the researchers write.

Beer and spirits at the expense of life expectancy

A total of 120 (15.4%) of the participants were at least 90 years old. In the group that drank "never or a few times a year", 18.9% lived to age 90, compared with 11.9% of those who said they drank beer more frequently.

Even among participants who regularly consumed spirits and increased alcohol intoxication, a significantly reduced proportion reached the age of 90. However, this did not apply to wine consumption, the researchers report.

The number of deaths has gradually increased with the increasing frequency of beer and spirits consumption and with the frequency of alcohol poisoning. In this context, no favorable influence was recognizable even for light alcohol consumption.

"This study shows that the frequency of beer and spirits consumption in mid-life has an impact on end-of-life and overall lifespan," said study authors Tormod Brenn and Ola Løvsletten of the Arctic University of Norway.

Those who give up alcohol or reduce their drinking to a few times a year are more likely to live longer and are 1.6 times more likely to live to their 90s or older than those who drink more frequently, note the experts. (fp)

Author and source information

Show now

This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.


Tormod Brenn, Ola Løvsletten: Midlife alcohol consumption and survival to age 90 in men: The Tromsø study 1979-1980 with follow-up to 2019; in: Scandinavian Journal of Public Health (published 07/25/2022),

Important Note:
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.