A new study by Australian researchers has found that the experience of ill health is associated with subsequent reduction or cessation of alcohol consumption.
In a cross-sectional study from the 2004 and 2007 Australian National Drug Strategy Household (NDSH) surveys, respondents were questioned about their current and past drinking, the presence of formal diagnosis for specific diseases and self-perceived general health status.
The sample sizes for the 2004 and 2007 NDSH surveys were 24,109 and 23,356, respectively.
The authors reported that respondents with a diagnosis of diabetes, hypertension, or anxiety were more likely to have reduced or stopped alcohol consumption in the past 12 months.
The likelihood of having reduced or ceased alcohol consumption in the past 12 months increased as perceived general health status declined from excellent to poor.
The researchers concluded that the experience of ill health is associated with subsequent reduction or cessation of alcohol consumption ("sick quitters"), which is consistent with most prospective epidemiologic studies.
On the other hand, most modern epidemiologic studies are careful not to include "sick quitters" within the non-drinking category, and relate health effects of drinkers with those of lifetime abstainers.
Further, prospective studies in which alcohol intake is assessed at different times usually indicate that subjects who decrease their intake are more likely to subsequently develop adverse health outcomes, especially related to cardiovascular disease, than those who continue moderate drinking.