26 August 2022 In Drinking Patterns

This review discusses the inconsistent recommendations on alcohol consumption and its association with chronic disease, highlighting the need for an evidence-based consensus. Alcohol is an addictive substance consumed worldwide, especially in European countries. Recommendations on alcohol consumption are controversial.

On one hand, many nonrandomized studies defend that moderate consumption has a beneficial cardiovascular effect or a lower risk of all-cause mortality. On the other hand, alcohol is associated with an increased risk of cancer, neurological diseases, or injuries, among others.

For years, efforts have been made to answer the question regarding the safe amount of alcohol intake, but controversies remain. Observational studies advocate moderate alcohol consumption following a Mediterranean pattern (red wine with meals avoiding binge drinking) as the best option for current drinkers.

However, agencies such as the IARC recommend abstention from alcohol as it is a potent carcinogen. In this context, more randomized trial with larger sample size and hard clinical endpoints should be conducted to clarify the available evidence and provide clinicians with support for their clinical practice.

26 August 2022 In Cardiovascular System

We examined whether the often-reported protective association of alcohol with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk could arise from confounding. Our sample comprised 908 men (56-67 years), free of prevalent CVD. Participants were categorized into 6 groups: never drinkers, former drinkers, and very light (1-4 drinks in past 14 days), light (5-14 drinks), moderate (15-28 drinks), and at-risk (>28 drinks) drinkers.

Generalized linear mixed effect models examined the associations of alcohol use with three established CVD risk scores: The Framingham Risk Score (FRS); the atherosclerotic CVD (ASCVD) risk score; and the Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) Severity score, adjusting for group differences in demographics, body size, and health-related behaviors. In separate models we additionally adjusted for several groups of potentially explanatory factors including socioeconomic status, social support, physical and mental health status, childhood factors, and prior history of alcohol misuse.

Results showed lower CVD risk among light and moderate alcohol drinkers, relative to very light drinkers, for all CVD risk scores, independent of demographics, body size, and health-related behaviors. Alcohol-CVD risk associations were robust to further adjustment for several groups of potential explanatory factors.

Study limitations include the all-male sample with limited racial and ethnic diversity, and the inability to adjust for sugar consumption and for patterns of alcohol consumption.

Although this observational study does not address causation, results show that middle-aged men who consume alcohol in moderation have lower CVD risk and better cardiometabolic health than men who consume little or no alcohol, independent of a variety of health, behavioral, psychosocial, and earlier life factors.

26 August 2022 In Cancer

It is known that the intake of alcoholic beverages may impair genetic and epigenetic regulatory events with consequent crucial effects on cell phenotypes and that its association with selected genotypes can lead to a different risk of cancer in the population.

The aim of this review is to pick up selected studies on this topic and recapitulate some of the biochemical and nutrigenetic/nutrigenomic aspects involved in the impact of dietary low-dose alcohol consumption on the switching-on or -off of tumorigenic pathways. These include i) the existence of predisposing or protective human genotypes and the relationship between dietary compounds and alcohol in the promotion or inhibition of carcinogenesis; ii) the effects of other components of alcoholic drinks in the modulation of the expression of oncogenes and oncosuppressors, the autophagic flux and the onset of apoptosis, with examples of their cytospecificity; and iii) the role of alcoholic beverage consumption within particular dietary regimens, including the Mediterranean diet.

Taking all the data into account, several alcohol-associated bioactive dietary compounds appear capable to modulate peculiar intracellular pathways predisposing to or protecting from cancer. Advances in the nutrigenetic, nutrigenomic and nutriepigenetic knowledge complementing the biochemical and molecular approaches will help in unveiling their impact on health outcome.

15 June 2022 In Pregnant Women

Fetal alcohol exposure can lead to a range of developmental disorders, including impaired fetal growth and development of multiple organ systems. These disorders are grouped under the term fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). Adequate nutrition and a conducive intrauterine environment are essential for healthy fetal development. Nutrient deficiencies resulting from inadequate maternal nutrient ingestion may be compounded by alcohol-induced altered nutrient metabolism, placental clearance, and malabsorption. Alcohol-induced alteration of the intrauterine environment is the main source of developmental deficits and nutritional insufficiencies can worsen the effects on fetal development. In this review, we discuss studies examining the collective and interactive effects of nutrition (specifically iron, selenium, vitamin A, thiamine, zinc, folate, vitamin B12, choline, and amino acids) relative to gestational alcohol consumption and its effects on fetal growth and development. We also summarize scientific reports that tested potential benefits of micronutrient supplementation in animal models of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and in humans. In summary, the deleterious effects of alcohol exposure in relation to nutrient homeostasis further validate that avoidance of alcohol consumption during pregnancy is the most effective way to mitigate the teratogenic effects of alcohol.

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