27 September 2019 In General Health

For almost a century, the scientific community is aware of the J-shaped curve between alcohol consumption and all-cause mortality. Moderate drinkers seem to live longer than both abstainers and heavy drinkers. These epidemiological observations regarding moderate alcohol consumption and beneficial health effects have been incessantly scrutinised for confounding and bias. This viewpoint discusses previous and recent criticisms regarding the J-shaped curve between alcohol consumption and total mortality risk. The controversies regarding the J-shaped curve between alcohol consumption and mortality are ongoing, as well as the debate among scientists in this area of research, resulting in conflicting messages in media and in different alcohol guidelines. Although it appears quite difficult to come up with a position statement only based on the currently available scientific data, it is imperative to fairly inform the public, without creating confusion and, worst case, disbelief in science.

27 September 2019 In Diabetes

BACKGROUND: The association between change in alcohol intake and metabolic syndrome is unclear.

METHODS: This retrospective cohort consisted of 41,368 males and females from the Health Examinees-GEM study. Participants were divided into non-drinkers (0.0 g/day), light drinkers (male: 0.1 to 19.9 g/day; female: 0.1 to 9.9 g/day), moderate drinkers (male: 20.0 to 39.9 g/day; female: 10.0 to 19.9 g/day), and heavy drinkers (male: >/=40.0 g/day; female: >/=20.0 g/day) for each of the initial and follow-up health examinations. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine the adjusted odds ratios (aORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for developing metabolic syndrome according to the change in alcohol consumption between the initial and follow-up health examinations. Adjusted mean values for the change in waist circumference, fasting serum glucose (FSG), blood pressure, triglycerides, and high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) levels were determined according to the change in alcohol consumption by linear regression analysis.

RESULTS: Compared to persistent light drinkers, those who increased alcohol intake to heavy levels had elevated risk of metabolic syndrome (aOR, 1.45; 95% CI, 1.09 to 1.92). In contrast, heavy drinkers who became light drinkers had reduced risk of metabolic syndrome (aOR, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.44 to 0.84) compared to persistent heavy drinkers. Increased alcohol consumption was associated with elevated adjusted mean values for waist circumference, FSG, blood pressure, triglycerides, and HDL-C levels (all P<0.05). Reduction in alcohol intake was associated with decreased waist circumference, FSG, blood pressure, triglycerides, and HDL-C levels among initial heavy drinkers (all P<0.05).

CONCLUSION: Heavy drinkers who reduce alcohol consumption could benefit from reduced risk of metabolic syndrome.

27 September 2019 In Cancer

BACKGROUND: Alcohol consumption is associated with increased risk of breast cancer; however, its association with subsequent risk of breast cancer death is unclear.

METHODS: We followed 4523 women with complete information on relevant risk factors for mortality; these women were 35 to 64 years of age when diagnosed with incident invasive breast cancer between 1994 and 1998. During follow up (median, 8.6 years), 1055 women died; 824 died from breast cancer. The information on alcohol consumption before diagnosis was collected shortly after breast cancer diagnosis (average: 5.1 months) during an in-person interview which used a structured questionnaire. Multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression models provided hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for breast cancer-specific mortality, mortality due to causes other than breast cancer, and all-cause mortality associated with alcohol consumption from age 15 years until breast cancer diagnosis and during recent periods of time prior to breast cancer diagnosis.

RESULTS: Average weekly alcohol consumption from age 15 years until breast cancer diagnosis was inversely associated with breast cancer-specific mortality (Ptrend = 0.01). Compared to non-drinkers, women in the highest average weekly alcohol consumption category (>/=7 drinks/week) had 25% lower risk of breast cancer-specific mortality (HR = 0.75, 95% CI = 0.56-1.00). Breast cancer mortality risk was also reduced among women in the highest average weekly alcohol consumption category in two recent time periods (5-year period ending 2-years prior to breast cancer diagnosis, HR = 0.74, 95% CI = 0.57-0.95; 2-year period immediately prior to breast cancer diagnosis: HR = 0.73, 95% CI = 0.56-0.95). Furthermore, analyses of average weekly alcohol consumption by beverage type from age 15 years until breast cancer diagnosis suggested that wine consumption was inversely associated with breast cancer-specific mortality risk (wine Ptrend = 0.06, beer Ptrend = 0.24, liquor Ptrend = 0.74). No association with any of these alcohol consumption variables was observed for mortality risk due to causes other than breast cancer.

CONCLUSIONS: Overall, we found no evidence that alcohol consumption before breast cancer diagnosis increases subsequent risk of death from breast cancer.

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