The health benefits of alcohol may be restricted to women over the age of 65, researchers say.
The research team from the UK and Australia explored the link between alcohol and mortality in different age groups and found that protective associations were largely limited to women aged 65 and over who reported consuming 10 units or less on average per week.
Little to no protection was found in other age-sex groups, regardless of consumption level, the authors reported in the BMJ.
The beneficial effects of alcohol seen in other studies may be down to inappropriate selection of the study group and weak adjustment for confounders, they said.
In an accompanying editorial Professor Mike Daube from Curtin University in Australia said the study added to a growing body of evidence that alcohol intake is unlikely to offer any health benefits.
New evidence or health claims “should be treated with great caution” and health professionals should discourage alcohol intake, even at low levels, for health benefits.