01 February 2017 In Social and Cultural Aspects

The alcohol industry have attempted to position themselves as collaborators in alcohol policy making as a way of influencing policies away from a focus on the drivers of the harmful use of alcohol (marketing, over availability and affordability). Their framings of alcohol consumption and harms allow them to argue for ineffective measures, largely targeting heavier consumers, and against population wide measures as the latter will affect moderate drinkers. The goal of their public relations organisations is to 'promote responsible drinking'. However, analysis of data collected in the International Alcohol Control study and used to estimate how much heavier drinking occasions contribute to the alcohol market in five different countries shows the alcohol industry's reliance on the harmful use of alcohol. In higher income countries heavier drinking occasions make up approximately 50% of sales and in middle income countries it is closer to two-thirds. It is this reliance on the harmful use of alcohol which underpins the conflicting interests between the transnational alcohol corporations and public health and which militates against their involvement in the alcohol policy arena.

[Caswell S, Callinan S, Chaiyasong S, Cuong PV, Kazantseva E, Bayandorj T, Huckle T, Parker K, Railton R, Wall M. How the alcohol industry relies on harmful use of alcohol and works to protect its profits. Drug Alcohol Rev 2016;35:661-664]

01 February 2017 In Cancer

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. 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). 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. The summary risk estimates were calculated by the random effects model. A dose-response analysis was also conducted for modeling the dose-risk relation. 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.

21 September 2016 In General Health

OBJECTIVE: To investigate to what extent alcohol consumption affects female fecundability. DESIGN: Prospective cohort study.

SETTING: Denmark, 1 June 2007 to 5 January 2016.

PARTICIPANTS: 6120 female Danish residents, aged 21-45 years, in a stable relationship with a male partner, who were trying to conceive and not receiving fertility treatment.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Alcohol consumption was self reported as beer (330 mL bottles), red or white wine (120 mL glasses), dessert wine (50 mL glasses), and spirits (20 mL) and categorized in standard servings per week (none, 1-3, 4-7, 8-13, and >/=14). Participants contributed menstrual cycles at risk until the report of pregnancy, start of fertility treatment, loss to follow-up, or end of observation (maximum 12 menstrual cycles). A proportional probability regression model was used to estimate fecundability ratios (cycle specific probability of conception among exposed women divided by that among unexposed women).

RESULTS: 4210 (69%) participants achieved a pregnancy during follow-up. Median alcohol intake was 2.0 (interquartile range 0-3.5) servings per week. Compared with no alcohol consumption, the adjusted fecundability ratios for alcohol consumption of 1-3, 4-7, 8-13, and 14 or more servings per week were 0.97 (95% confidence interval 0.91 to 1.03), 1.01 (0.93 to 1.10), 1.01 (0.87 to 1.16) and 0.82 (0.60 to 1.12), respectively. Compared with no alcohol intake, the adjusted fecundability ratios for women who consumed only wine (>/=3 servings), beer (>/=3 servings), or spirits (>/=2 servings) were 1.05 (0.91 to1.21), 0.92 (0.65 to 1.29), and 0.85 (0.61 to 1.17), respectively. The data did not distinguish between regular and binge drinking, which may be important if large amounts of alcohol are consumed during the fertile window.

CONCLUSION: Consumption of less than 14 servings of alcohol per week seemed to have no discernible effect on fertility. No appreciable difference in fecundability was observed by level of consumption of beer and wine.

21 September 2016 In Diabetes

BACKGROUND: People with diabetes are told that drinking alcohol may increase their risk of hypoglycaemia. AIMS: To report the effects of alcohol consumption on glycaemic control in people with diabetes mellitus.

METHODS: Medline, EMBASE and the Cochrane library databases were searched in 2015 to identify randomized trials that compared alcohol consumption with no alcohol use, reporting glycaemic control in people with diabetes. Data on blood glucose, HbA1c and numbers of hypoglycaemic episodes were pooled using random effects meta-analysis.

RESULTS: Pooled data from nine short-term studies showed no difference in blood glucose concentrations between those who drank alcohol in doses of 16-80 g (median 20g, 2.5 units) compared with those who did not drink alcohol at 0.5, 2, 4 and 24 h after alcohol consumption. Pooled data from five medium-term studies showed that there was no difference in blood glucose or HbA1c concentrations at the end of the study between those who drank 11-18 g alcohol/day (median 13g/day, 1.5 units/day) for 4-104 weeks and those who did not. We found no evidence of a difference in number of hypoglycaemic episodes or in withdrawal rates between randomized groups.

CONCLUSIONS: Studies to date have not provided evidence that drinking light to moderate amounts of alcohol, with or without a meal, affects any measure of glycaemic control in people with Type 2 diabetes. These results suggest that current advice that people with diabetes do not need to refrain from drinking moderate quantities of alcohol does not need to be changed; risks to those with Type 1 diabetes remain uncertain. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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