Doctors have known that alcoholic men who do not give up the bottle have a death rate five times higher than the average, [Igor Grant] said. The rates are even more dramatic among young men. Drinking men under age 45 have a mortality rate 10 times as high as their sober counterparts, Grant said.
To explore the question, Grant and his two colleagues followed 199 alcoholic men over an 11-year period. All the men were healthy-except for their drinking-and had been admitted to the VA Medical Center. Grant described them as "still working or functioning."
"Among alcoholics who were able to abstain continuously, their mortality rate was no different than their nonalcoholic controls," said Grant, who hopes to continue the study over a 20-year period. "And those who resumed drinking have a mortality rate five times higher than you'd expect for a person of that race, age and sex."