22 February 2019 In Liver Disease

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the longitudinal relationship between repeated measures of alcohol consumption and risk of developing fatty liver.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: This study includes 5407 men and women from a British population-based cohort, the Whitehall II study of civil servants, who self-reported alcohol consumption by questionnaire over approximately 30 years (1985-1989 through to 2012-2013). Drinking typologies during midlife were linked to measures of fatty liver (the fatty liver index, FLI) when participants were in older age (age range 60-84 years) and adjusted for age, socio-economic position, ethnicity, and smoking.

RESULTS: Those who consistently drank heavily had two-fold higher odds of increased FLI compared to stable low-risk moderate drinkers after adjustment for covariates (men: OR = 2.04, 95%CI = 1.53-2.74; women: OR = 2.24, 95%CI = 1.08-4.55). Former drinkers also had an increased FLI compared to low-risk drinkers (men: OR = 2.09, 95%CI = 1.55-2.85; women: OR = 1.68, 95%CI = 1.08-2.67). There were non-significant differences in FLI between non-drinkers and stable low-risk drinkers. Among women, there was no increased risk for current heavy drinkers in cross sectional analyses.

CONCLUSION: Drinking habits among adults during midlife affect the development of fatty liver, and sustained heavy drinking is associated with an increased FLI compared to stable low-risk drinkers. After the exclusion of former drinkers, there was no difference between non-drinkers and low-risk drinkers, which does not support a protective effect on fatty liver from low-risk drinking. Cross-sectional analyses among women did not find an increased risk of heavy drinking compared to low-risk drinkers, thus highlighting the need to take a longitudinal approach.

22 February 2019 In Drinking & Driving

BACKGROUND: Drink driving is an important risk factor for road traffic accidents (RTAs), which cause high levels of morbidity and mortality globally. Lowering the permitted blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for drivers is a common public health intervention that is enacted in countries and jurisdictions across the world. In Scotland, on Dec 5, 2014, the BAC limit for drivers was reduced from 0.08 g/dL to 0.05 g/dL. We therefore aimed to evaluate the effects of this change on RTAs and alcohol consumption.

METHODS: In this natural experiment, we used an observational, comparative interrupted time-series design by use of data on RTAs and alcohol consumption in Scotland (the interventional group) and England and Wales (the control group). We obtained weekly counts of RTAs from police accident records and we estimated weekly off-trade (eg, in supermarkets and convenience stores) and 4-weekly on-trade (eg, in bars and restaurants) alcohol consumption from market research data. We also used data from automated traffic counters as denominators to calculate RTA rates. We estimated the effect of the intervention on RTAs by use of negative binomial panel regression and on alcohol consumption outcomes by use of seasonal autoregressive integrated moving average models. Our primary outcome was weekly rates of RTAs in Scotland, England, and Wales. This study is registered with ISRCTN, number ISRCTN38602189.

FINDINGS: We assessed the weekly rate of RTAs and alcohol consumption between Jan 1, 2013, and Dec 31, 2016, before and after the BAC limit came into effect on Dec 5, 2014. After the reduction in BAC limits for drivers in Scotland, we found no significant change in weekly RTA rates after adjustment for seasonality and underlying temporal trend (rate ratio 1.01, 95% CI 0.94-1.08; p=0.77) or after adjustment for seasonality, the underlying temporal trend, and the driver characteristics of age, sex, and socioeconomic deprivation (1.00, 0.96-1.06; p=0.73). Relative to RTAs in England and Wales, where the reduction in BAC limit for drivers did not occur, we found a 7% increase in weekly RTA rates in Scotland after this reduction in BAC limit for drivers (1.07, 1.02-1.13; p=0.007 in the fully-adjusted model). Similar findings were observed for serious or fatal RTAs and single-vehicle night-time RTAs. The change in legislation in Scotland was associated with no change in alcohol consumption, measured by per-capita off-trade sales (-0.3%, -1.7 to 1.1; p=0.71), but a 0.7% decrease in alcohol consumption measured by per-capita on-trade sales (-0.7%, -0.8 to -0.5; p<0.0001).

INTERPRETATION: Lowering the driving BAC limit to 0.05 g/dL from 0.08 g/dL in Scotland was not associated with a reduction in RTAs, but this change was associated with a small reduction in per-capita alcohol consumption from on-trade alcohol sales. One plausible explanation is that the legislative change was not suitably enforced-for example with random breath testing measures. Our findings suggest that changing the legal BAC limit for drivers in isolation does not improve RTA outcomes. These findings have significant policy implications internationally as several countries and jurisdictions consider a similar reduction in the BAC limit for drivers.

FUNDING: National Institute for Health Research Public Health Research Programme.

22 February 2019 In Cardiovascular System
Importance: More than 1 million older adults develop heart failure annually. The association of alcohol consumption with survival among these individuals after diagnosis is unknown. Objective: To determine whether alcohol use is associated with increased survival among older adults with incident heart failure. Design, Setting, and Participants: This prospective cohort study included 5888 community-dwelling adults aged 65 years or older who were recruited to participate in the Cardiovascular Health Study between June 12, 1989, and June 1993, from 4 US sites. Of the total participants, 393 individuals had a new diagnosis of heart failure within the first 9 years of follow-up through June 2013. The study analysis was performed between January 19, 2016, and September 22, 2016. Exposures: Alcohol consumption was divided into 4 categories: abstainers (never drinkers), former drinkers, 7 or fewer alcoholic drinks per week, and more than 7 drinks per week. Primary Outcomes and Measures: Participant survival after the diagnosis of incident heart failure. Results: Among the 393 adults diagnosed with incident heart failure, 213 (54.2%) were female, 339 (86.3%) were white, and the mean (SD) age was 78.7 (6.0) years. Alcohol consumption after diagnosis was reported in 129 (32.8%) of the participants. Across alcohol consumption categories of long-term abstainers, former drinkers, consumers of 1-7 drinks weekly and consumers of more than 7 drinks weekly, the percentage of men (32.1%, 49.0%, 58.0%, and 82.4%, respectively; P < .001 for trend), white individuals (78.0%, 92.7%, 92.0%, and 94.1%, respectively, P <. 001 for trend), and high-income participants (22.0%, 43.8%, 47.3%, and 64.7%, respectively; P < .001 for trend) increased with increasing alcohol consumption. Across the 4 categories, participants who consumed more alcohol had more years of education (mean, 12 years [interquartile range (IQR), 8.0-10.0 years], 12 years [IQR, 11.0-14.0 years], 13 years [IQR, 12.0-15.0 years], and 13 years [IQR, 12.0-14.0 years]; P < .001 for trend). Diabetes was less common across the alcohol consumption categories (32.1%, 26.0%, 22.3%, and 5.9%, respectively; P = .01 for trend). Across alcohol consumption categories, there were fewer never smokers (58.3%, 44.8%, 35.7%, and 29.4%, respectively; P < .001 for trend) and more former smokers (34.5%, 38.5%, 50.0%, and 52.9%, respectively; P = .006 for trend). After controlling for other factors, consumption of 7 or fewer alcoholic drinks per week was associated with additional mean survival of 383 days (95% CI, 17-748 days; P = .04) compared with abstinence from alcohol. Although the robustness was limited by the small number of individuals who consumed more than 7 drinks per week, a significant inverted U-shaped association between alcohol consumption and survival was observed. Multivariable model estimates of mean time from heart failure diagnosis to death were 2640 days (95% CI, 1967-3313 days) for never drinkers, 3046 days (95% CI, 2372-3719 days) for consumers of 0 to 7 drinks per week, and 2806 (95% CI, 1879-3734 days) for consumers of more than 7 drinks per week (P = .02). Consumption of 10 drinks per week was associated with the longest survival, a mean of 3381 days (95% CI, 2806-3956 days) after heart failure diagnosis. Conclusions and Relevance: These findings suggest that limited alcohol consumption among older adults with incident heart failure is associated with survival benefit compared with long-term abstinence. These findings suggest that older adults who develop heart failure may not need to abstain from moderate levels of alcohol consumption
25 January 2019 In Cardiovascular System

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Epidemiological evidence on the impact of different alcohol drinking patterns on health-care systems or hospitalizations is sparse. We investigated how the different average volumes of alcohol consumed relate to all-cause and cause-specific hospitalizations.

DESIGN: Prospective cohort study (baseline 2005-10) linked to a registry of hospital discharge records to identify hospitalizations at follow-up (December 2013).

SETTING: Molise region, Italy.

PARTICIPANTS: A total of 20 682 individuals (48% men, age >/= 35 years) who participated in the Moli-sani Study and were free from cardiovascular disease or cancer at baseline.

MEASUREMENTS: The alcohol volume consumed in the year before enrolment was classified as: life-time abstainers, former drinkers, occasional drinkers and current drinkers who drank 1-12 (referent), 12.1-24, 24.1-48 and > 48 g/day of alcohol. Cause-specific hospitalizations were assigned by Italian Diagnosis Related Groups classification or by ICD-9 code of main admission diagnoses. Incidence rate ratios (IRR) of hospitalization were estimated by Poisson regression, taking into account the total number of admissions that occurred during the follow-up per person.

FINDINGS: During a median follow-up of 6.3 years, 12 996 multiple hospital admissions occurred. In multivariable analyses, life-time abstainers and former drinkers had higher rates of all-cause [IRR = 1.11, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.05-1.17 and IRR = 1.19, 95% CI = 1.02-1.31, respectively] and vascular (IRR = 1.14, 95% CI = 1.02-1.27 and IRR = 1.48, 95% CI = 1.24-1.76, respectively) hospitalizations compared with light alcohol consumers. Alcohol consumption > 48 g/day was associated with a higher rate of hospitalization for both alcohol-related diseases (IRR = 1.74, 95% CI = 1.32-2.29) and cancer (IRR = 1.36, 95% CI = 1.12-1.65). The magnitude of the association between heavier alcohol intake and hospitalization tended to be greater in smokers than non-smokers. No associations were observed with hospitalization for trauma or neurodegenerative diseases.

CONCLUSIONS: Moderate alcohol consumption appears to have a modest but complex impact on global hospitalization burden. Heavier drinkers have a higher rate of hospitalization for all causes, including alcohol-related diseases and cancer, a risk that appears to be further magnified by concurrent smoking.

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