02 August 2016 In Cancer

BACKGROUND: It is still inconclusive whether alcohol consumption affects the risk of thyroid cancer. We conducted a meta-analysis of available epidemiological data to address this issue.

RESULTS: Compared with nondrinkers, the pooled relative risks (RRs) and corresponding 95% confidential intervals (CIs) of thyroid cancer were 0.80 (95% CI 0.71-0.90) for any drinkers, 0.81 (95% CI 0.70-0.93) for light and 0.71 (95% CI 0.63-0.79) for moderate drinkers. The dose-response analysis suggested that there is no evidence of a dose-risk relationship between alcohol intaking and thyroid cancer risk (P = 0.112).

METHODS: Eligible studies were identified by searching PubMed and EMbase databases. A total of 24 studies, included 9,990 cases with thyroid cancer, were included in this meta-analysis. We defined light alcohol intake as = one drink/day and moderate as >one drink/day. The summary risk estimates were calculated by the random effects model. A dose-response analysis was also conducted for modeling the dose-risk relation.

CONCLUSION: This meta-analysis confirmed an inverse association between alcohol consumption and thyroid cancer risk. Further studies are needed to better understand the potential mechanisms underlying this association.

28 June 2016 In General Health

Selection biases may lead to systematic overestimate of protective effects from 'moderate' alcohol consumption. Overall, most sources of selection bias favor low-volume drinkers in relation to non-drinkers. Studies that attempt to address these types of bias generally find attenuated or non-significant relationships between low-volume alcohol consumption and cardiovascular disease, which is the major source of possible protective effects on mortality from low-volume consumption. Furthermore, observed mortality effects among established low-volume consumers are of limited relevance to health-related decisions about whether to initiate consumption or to continue drinking purposefully into old age. Short of randomized trials with mortality end-points, there are a number of approaches that can minimize selection bias involving low-volume alcohol consumption.

28 June 2016 In General Health

AIMS: Increases in glass sizes and wine strength over the last 25 years in the UK are likely to have led to an underestimation of alcohol intake in population studies. We explore whether this probable misclassification affects the association between average alcohol intake and risk of mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

METHODS: Self-reported alcohol consumption in 1997-1999 among 7010 men and women in the Whitehall II cohort of British civil servants was linked to the risk of mortality until mid-2015. A conversion factor of 8 g of alcohol per wine glass (1 unit) was compared with a conversion of 16 g per wine glass (2 units).

RESULTS: When applying a higher alcohol content conversion for wine consumption, the proportion of heavy/very heavy drinkers increased from 28% to 41% for men and 15% to 28% for women. There was a significantly increased risk of very heavy drinking compared with moderate drinking for deaths from all causes and cancer before and after change in wine conversion; however, the hazard ratios were reduced when a higher wine conversion was used.

CONCLUSIONS: In this population-based study, assuming higher alcohol content in wine glasses changed the estimates of mortality risk. We propose that investigator-led cohorts need to revisit conversion factors based on more accurate estimates of alcohol content in wine glasses. Prospectively, researchers need to collect more detailed information on alcohol including serving sizes and strength.

SHORT SUMMARY: The alcohol content in a wine glass is likely to be underestimated in population surveys as wine strength and serving size have increased in recent years. We demonstrate that in a large cohort study, this underestimation affects estimates of mortality risk. Investigator-led cohorts need to revisit conversion factors based on more accurate estimates of alcohol content in wine glasses.

17 May 2016 In Cancer

The objective of this study was to outline the biological pathways of alcohol-attributable breast cancer, the epidemiological risk relationship between alcohol consumption and breast cancer, and the global burden of breast cancer incidence and mortality attributable to alcohol consumption, with a focus on light drinking. First, the literature regarding the biological mechanisms of how alcohol affects the risk of breast cancer was reviewed and summarized. Second, a search of meta-analyses that evaluated the risk relationship between alcohol consumption and breast cancer was conducted. Last, the burden of alcohol-attributable breast cancer incidence and mortality was estimated by means of a Population-Attributable Fraction methodology. Data on alcohol consumption were obtained from the Global Information System on Alcohol and Health, and data on cancer incidence and mortality were obtained from the GLOBOCAN database. Alcohol consumption affects breast cancer risk through the alteration in hormone levels and the associated biological pathways, the metabolism of ethanol resulting in carcinogens, and the inhibition of the one carbon metabolism pathway. The systematic review found 15 meta-analyses on the risk relationship between alcohol consumption (also light consumption) and the risk of breast cancer. All but 2 of these analyses showed a dose-response relationship between alcohol consumption and the risk of breast cancer. An estimated 144,000 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 88,000 to 200,000) breast cancer cases and 38,000 (95% CI: 2,400 to 53,000) breast cancer deaths globally in 2012 were attributable to alcohol, with 18.8% of these cases and 17.5% of these deaths affecting women who were light alcohol consumers. All levels of evidence showed a risk relationship between alcohol consumption and the risk of breast cancer, even at low levels of consumption. Due to this strong relationship, and to the amount of alcohol consumed globally, the incidence of and mortality from alcohol-attributable breast cancer is large.

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