05 December 2018 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

BACKGROUND: Some of the previously reported health benefits of low-to-moderate alcohol consumption may derive from health status influencing alcohol consumption rather than the opposite. We examined whether health status changes influence changes in alcohol consumption, cessation included.

METHODS: Data came from 571 current drinkers aged >/=60 years participating in the Seniors-ENRICA cohort in Spain. Participants were recruited in 2008-2010 and followed-up for 8.2 years, with four waves of data collection. We assessed health status using a 52-item deficit accumulation (DA) index with four domains: functional, self-rated health and vitality, mental health, and morbidity and health services use. To minimise reverse causation, we examined how changes in health status over a 3-year period (wave 0-wave 1) influenced changes in alcohol consumption over the subsequent 5 years (waves 1-3) using linear/logistic regression, as appropriate.

RESULTS: Compared with participants in the lowest tertile of DA change (mean absolute 4.3% health improvement), those in the highest tertile (7.8% worsening) showed a reduction in alcohol intake (beta: -4.32 g/day; 95% CI -7.00 to -1.62; p trend=0.002) and were more likely to quit alcohol (OR: 2.80; 95% CI 1.54 to 5.08; p trend=0.001). The main contributors to decreasing drinking were increased functional impairment and poorer self-rated health, whereas worsening self-rated health, onset of diabetes or stroke and increased prevalence of hospitalisation influenced cessation.

CONCLUSIONS: Health deterioration is related to a subsequent reduction and cessation of alcohol consumption contributing to the growing evidence challenging the protective health effect previously attributed to low-to-moderate alcohol consumption.

27 July 2018 In General Health

AIMS: To estimate differences in the strength and shape of associations between alcohol use and diagnosis-specific sickness absence.

DESIGN: A multi-cohort study. Participants (n = 47 520) responded to a survey on alcohol use at two time-points, and were linked to records of sickness absence. Diagnosis-specific sickness absence was followed for 4-7 years from the latter survey.

SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: From Finland, we had population cohort survey data from 1998 and 2003 and employee cohort survey data from 2000-02 and 2004. From France and the United Kingdom, we had employee cohort survey data from 1993 and 1997, and 1985-88 and 1991-94, respectively.

MEASUREMENTS: We used standard questionnaires to assess alcohol intake categorized into 0, 1-11 and > 11 units per week in women and 0, 1-34 and > 34 units per week in men. We identified groups with stable and changing alcohol use over time. We linked participants to records from sickness absence registers. Diagnoses of sickness absence were coded according to the International Classification of Diseases. Estimates were adjusted for sex, age, socio-economic status, smoking and body mass index.

FINDINGS: Women who reported drinking 1-11 units and men who reported drinking 1-34 units of alcohol per week in both surveys were the reference group. Compared with them, women and men who reported no alcohol use in either survey had a higher risk of sickness absence due to mental disorders [rate ratio = 1.51, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.22-1.88], musculoskeletal disorders (1.22, 95% CI = 1.06-1.41), diseases of the digestive system (1.35, 95% CI = 1.02-1.77) and diseases of the respiratory system (1.49, 95% CI = 1.29-1.72). Women who reported alcohol consumption of > 11 weekly units and men who reported alcohol consumption of > 34 units per week in both surveys were at increased risk of absence due to injury or poisoning (1.44, 95% CI = 1.13-1.83).

CONCLUSIONS: In Finland, France and the United Kingdom, people who report not drinking any alcohol on two occasions several years apart appear to have a higher prevalence of sickness absence from work with chronic somatic and mental illness diagnoses than those drinking below a risk threshold of 11 units per week for women and 34 units per week for men. Persistent at-risk drinking in Finland, France and the United Kingdom appears to be related to increased absence due to injury or poisoning.

27 July 2018 In Cardiovascular System

Moderate alcohol consumption has been associated with a lower risk of coronary artery disease (CAD) in the general population but has not been well studied in US veterans. We obtained self-reported alcohol consumption from Million Veteran Program participants. Using electronic health records, CAD events were defined as 1 inpatient or 2 outpatient diagnosis codes for CAD, or 1 code for a coronary procedure. We excluded participants with prevalent CAD (n = 69,995) or incomplete alcohol information (n = 8,449). We used a Cox proportional hazards model to estimate hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals for CAD, adjusting for age, gender, body mass index, race, smoking, education, and exercise. Among 156,728 participants, the mean age was 65.3 years (standard deviation = 12.1) and 91% were men. There were 6,153 CAD events during a mean follow-up of 2.9 years. Adjusted hazard ratios (95% confidence intervals) for CAD were 1.00 (reference), 1.02 (0.92 to 1.13), 0.83 (0.74 to 0.93), 0.77 (0.67 to 0.87), 0.71 (0.62 to 0.81), 0.62 (0.51 to 0.76), 0.58 (0.46 to 0.74), and 0.95 (0.85 to 1.06) for categories of never drinker; former drinker; current drinkers of 0.5 to 1 drink/day, >1 to 2 drinks/day, >2 to 3 drinks/day, and >3 to 4 drinks/day; and heavy drinkers (>4 drinks/day) or alcohol use disorder, respectively. For a fixed amount of ethanol, intake at >/=3 days/week was associated with lower CAD risk compared with </=1 day/week. Beverage preference (beer, wine, or liquor) did not influence the alcohol-CAD relation. Our data show a lower risk of CAD with light-to-moderate alcohol consumption among US veterans, and drinking frequency may provide a further reduction in risk.

18 May 2018 In General Health

Objective: The objective of this study is to determine whether the health effects of smoking and moderate alcohol use persist with aging.

Method: Smoking status, alcohol use, and measures of function and health were obtained from 9,704 women aged >/=65 years at baseline and over 10- and 20-year follow-up periods. Adjusted multiple linear and logistic regression and Cox proportional hazard models estimated associations.

Results: Current versus never smokers had worse walking speed, self-reported health, difficulty with instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), and depression at 10 years and higher death rates at 10 and 20 years. Moderate versus never drinkers had better grip strength, walking speed, self-reported health, and less difficulty with IADLs and were less likely to live in nursing homes at 10 years and die at 10 and 20 years.

Discussion: Among aging women over 20 years, smoking is associated with worse physical function, including death, while moderate alcohol use is associated with better outcomes.

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