05 December 2018 In Liver Disease

BACKGROUND: Alcohol is a known cause of cirrhosis, but it is unclear if the associated risk varies by whether alcohol is drunk with meals, or by the frequency or type of alcohol consumed. Here we aim to investigate the associations between alcohol consumption with meals, daily frequency of consumption, and liver cirrhosis.

METHODS: The Million Women Study is a prospective study that includes one in every four UK women born between 1935 and 1950, recruited between 1996 and 2001. In 2001 (IQR 2000-03), the participants reported their alcohol intake, whether consumption was usually with meals, and number of days per week it was consumed. Cox regression analysis yielded adjusted relative risks (RRs) for incident cirrhosis, identified by follow-up through electronic linkage to routinely collected national hospital admission, and death databases.

FINDINGS: During a mean of 15 years (SD 3) of follow-up of 401 806 women with a mean age of 60 years (SD 5), without previous cirrhosis or hepatitis, and who reported drinking at least one alcoholic drink per week, 1560 had a hospital admission with cirrhosis (n=1518) or died from the disease (n=42). Cirrhosis incidence increased with amount of alcohol consumed (>/=15 drinks [mean 220 g of alcohol] vs one to two drinks [mean 30 g of alcohol] per week; RR 3.43, 95% CI 2.87-4.10; p<0.0001). About half of the participants (203 564 of 401 806) reported usually drinking with meals and, after adjusting for amount consumed, cirrhosis incidence was lower for usually drinking with meals than not (RR 0.69, 0.62-0.77; p<0.0001; wine-only drinkers RR 0.69, 0.56-0.85; all other drinkers RR 0.72, 0.63-0.82). Among 175 618 women who consumed seven or more drinks per week, cirrhosis incidence was greater for daily consumption than non-daily consumption (adjusted RR 1.61, 1.40-1.85; p<0.0001). Daily consumption, together with not drinking with meals, was associated with more than a doubling of cirrhosis incidence (adjusted RR 2.47, 1.96-3.11; p<0.0001).

INTERPRETATION: In middle-aged women, cirrhosis incidence increases with total alcohol intake, even at moderate levels of consumption. For a given weekly intake of alcohol, this excess incidence of cirrhosis is higher if consumption is usually without meals, or with daily drinking. FUNDING: UK Medical Research Council and Cancer Research UK.

05 December 2018 In Drinking 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.

29 October 2018 In Drinking Patterns

OBJECTIVE: Labels indicating low/light versions of tobacco and foods are perceived as less harmful, which may encourage people to consume more. There is an absence of evidence concerning the impact on consumption of labeling alcohol products as lower in strength. The current study tests the hypothesis that labeling wine and beer as lower in alcohol increases their consumption.

METHOD: Weekly wine and beer drinkers (n = 264) sampled from a representative panel of the general population of England were randomized to one of three groups to taste test drinks in a bar-laboratory varying only in the label displayed; Group 1: verbal descriptor Super Low combined with 4% alcohol by volume (ABV) for wine/1% ABV for beer; Group 2: verbal descriptor Low combined with 8% ABV for wine/3% ABV for beer; Group 3: no verbal descriptors of strength (Regular). Primary outcome was total volume (ml) of drink consumed.

RESULTS: The results supported the study hypothesis: the total amount of drink consumed increased as the label on the drink denoted successively lower alcohol strength, BLin = .71, p = .015, 95% CI [0.13, 1.30]. Group contrasts showed significant differences between those offered drinks labeled as Super Low (M = 213.77) compared with Regular (M = 176.85), B = 1.43, p = .019, 95% CI [0.24, 2.61]. There was no significant difference in amount consumed between those offered drinks labeled as Low compared with Regular.

CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that labeling drinks as lower in strength increases the amount consumed. Further studies are warranted to test for replication in non-laboratory settings and to estimate whether any effects are at a level with the potential to harm health.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: ISRCTN15530806. (PsycINFO Database Record)

29 October 2018 In Cardiovascular System

Background: To assess sex-specific associations between risk-based alcohol drinking levels and the 10-year cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk scores and cardiovascular (CV) risk factors.

Methods: Data from 9,995 Koreans (4,249 men, 5,746 women), aged 40 to 79 years who did not have CVD and participated in the 2011 to 2013 Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, were used to assess risk-based alcohol drinking levels in the past year (no drinking, drinking at low risk, and drinking at risk) categorized by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, components of the 10-year CVD risk scores using the Adult Treatment Panel III risk score and the 10-year hard atherosclerotic CVD risk score, CV risk factors, and confounding factors (age, smoking status, body mass index, educational attainment, income level, and physical activity).

Results: Drinking levels had positive associations with blood pressure and levels of glucose, triglycerides, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and inverse associations with levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and non-HDL-C and ratio of total cholesterol (TC) to HDL-C in men, while higher drinking levels were associated with higher HDL-C levels and lower ratio of TC to HDL-C in women after adjusting for confounding factors (p for trend < 0.001). With respect to the 10-year CVD risk scores, higher drinking levels were associated with lower scores in both sexes (p for trend < 0.001).

Conclusions: Risk-based drinking levels were more likely to have dose-dependent associations with CV risk factors in men than in women and had inverse relationships with 10-year CVD risk in both men and women.

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