06 September 2018 In General Health

BACKGROUND: Alcohol use is a leading risk factor for death and disability, but its overall association with health remains complex given the possible protective effects of moderate alcohol consumption on some conditions. With our comprehensive approach to health accounting within the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2016, we generated improved estimates of alcohol use and alcohol-attributable deaths and disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) for 195 locations from 1990 to 2016, for both sexes and for 5-year age groups between the ages of 15 years and 95 years and older.

METHODS: Using 694 data sources of individual and population-level alcohol consumption, along with 592 prospective and retrospective studies on the risk of alcohol use, we produced estimates of the prevalence of current drinking, abstention, the distribution of alcohol consumption among current drinkers in standard drinks daily (defined as 10 g of pure ethyl alcohol), and alcohol-attributable deaths and DALYs. We made several methodological improvements compared with previous estimates: first, we adjusted alcohol sales estimates to take into account tourist and unrecorded consumption; second, we did a new meta-analysis of relative risks for 23 health outcomes associated with alcohol use; and third, we developed a new method to quantify the level of alcohol consumption that minimises the overall risk to individual health.

FINDINGS: Globally, alcohol use was the seventh leading risk factor for both deaths and DALYs in 2016, accounting for 2·2% (95% uncertainty interval [UI] 1·5-3·0) of age-standardised female deaths and 6·8% (5·8-8·0) of age-standardised male deaths. Among the population aged 15-49 years, alcohol use was the leading risk factor globally in 2016, with 3·8% (95% UI 3·2-4·3) of female deaths and 12·2% (10·8-13·6) of male deaths attributable to alcohol use. For the population aged 15-49 years, female attributable DALYs were 2·3% (95% UI 2·0-2·6) and male attributable DALYs were 8·9% (7·8-9·9). The three leading causes of attributable deaths in this age group were tuberculosis (1·4% [95% UI 1·0-1·7] of total deaths), road injuries (1·2% [0·7-1·9]), and self-harm (1·1% [0·6-1·5]). For populations aged 50 years and older, cancers accounted for a large proportion of total alcohol-attributable deaths in 2016, constituting 27·1% (95% UI 21·2-33·3) of total alcohol-attributable female deaths and 18·9% (15·3-22·6) of male deaths. The level of alcohol consumption that minimised harm across health outcomes was zero (95% UI 0·0-0·8) standard drinks per week.

INTERPRETATION: Alcohol use is a leading risk factor for global disease burden and causes substantial health loss. We found that the risk of all-cause mortality, and of cancers specifically, rises with increasing levels of consumption, and the level of consumption that minimises health loss is zero. These results suggest that alcohol control policies might need to be revised worldwide, refocusing on efforts to lower overall population-level consumption.

06 September 2018 In Dementia

OBJECTIVE: To examine the association between alcohol consumption and risk of dementia.

DESIGN: Prospective cohort study.

SETTING: Civil service departments in London (Whitehall II study).

PARTICIPANTS: 9087 participants aged 35-55 years at study inception (1985/88).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Incident dementia, identified through linkage to hospital, mental health services, and mortality registers until 2017. Measures of alcohol consumption were the mean from three assessments between 1985/88 and 1991/93 (midlife), categorised as abstinence, 1-14 units/week, and >14 units/week; 17 year trajectories of alcohol consumption based on five assessments of alcohol consumption between 1985/88 and 2002/04; CAGE questionnaire for alcohol dependence assessed in 1991/93; and hospital admission for alcohol related chronic diseases between 1991 and 2017.

RESULTS: 397 cases of dementia were recorded over a mean follow-up of 23 years. Abstinence in midlife was associated with a higher risk of dementia (hazard ratio 1.47, 95% confidence interval 1.15 to 1.89) compared with consumption of 1-14 units/week. Among those drinking >14 units/week, a 7 unit increase in alcohol consumption was associated with a 17% (95% confidence interval 4% to 32%) increase in risk of dementia. CAGE score >2 (hazard ratio 2.19, 1.29 to 3.71) and alcohol related hospital admission (4.28, 2.72 to 6.73) were also associated with an increased risk of dementia. Alcohol consumption trajectories from midlife to early old age showed long term abstinence (1.74, 1.31 to 2.30), decrease in consumption (1.55, 1.08 to 2.22), and long term consumption >14 units/week (1.40, 1.02 to 1.93) to be associated with a higher risk of dementia compared with long term consumption of 1-14 units/week. Analysis using multistate models suggested that the excess risk of dementia associated with abstinence in midlife was partly explained by cardiometabolic disease over the follow-up as the hazard ratio of dementia in abstainers without cardiometabolic disease was 1.33 (0.88 to 2.02) compared with 1.47 (1.15 to 1.89) in the entire population.

CONCLUSION: The risk of dementia was increased in people who abstained from alcohol in midlife or consumed >14 units/week. In several countries, guidelines define thresholds for harmful alcohol consumption much higher than 14 units/week. The present findings encourage the downward revision of such guidelines to promote cognitive health at older ages.

27 July 2018 In Social and Cultural Aspects

Young people frequently display alcohol-related posts ("alcoholposts") on social networking sites such as Facebook and Instagram. Although evidence exists that such posts may be linked with increases in alcohol consumption, hardly any studies have focused on the content of such posts. This study addresses this gap by applying and extending the alcoholpost-typology previously proposed by Hendriks, Gebhardt, and van den Putte. A content analysis assessed the extent to which alcoholposts were displayed on Facebook and/or Instagram profiles of young participants (12-30 years; N = 192), and which type of alcoholpost these posts most strongly resembled. Moderate alcoholposts (e.g., in which alcohol was in the background) were most often posted. At times, textual alcoholposts and commercial alcoholposts were also displayed; however, extreme posts (e.g., about drunk people or drinking-games) were almost nonexistent. These findings confirm the previous results by Hendriks et al. that moderate posts are more frequently posted than extreme posts. This could imply that positive associations with alcohol consumption are more visible on social media than negative associations, potentially leading to an underestimation of alcohol-related risks.

27 July 2018 In General Health

Purpose: The placement of warning labels on alcoholic beverages is a policy area with renewed interest, yet a strong evidence base regarding the efficacy of text-based or pictorial warning labels has still to emerge. Increased interest by policymakers has spurred research into potential alcohol warning label designs and messages. The purpose of this article is to draw together recearch in the alcohol warnings literature.

Design/methodology/approach: The current study seeks to review research that has sought to examine the effectiveness of alcohol warning labels. Searches for English-language articles (since 2000) using the terms "alcohol" and "warning label*" were conducted in 2015 across four databases (Web of Science, PubMed, PsycInfo and Cochrane). Articles were included if they empirically assessed the effectiveness and/or design of alcohol warning labels. Only studies that addressed the targeted individual consumer (consistent with downstream social marketing) were included. A narrative analysis approach was used for the 15 articles identified.

Findings: Findings are reported on five themes covering the design of the warning, starting with the use of imagery or recommendations, followed by a focus on the warning messages and whether they are specific, use signal words and are based on qualitative or quantitative information.

Research limitations/implications: Overall, there was little consistency in approach and measures, with very limited research having explored the potential of pictorial warning labels. Numerous research gaps are identified; thus, much more research is needed in this area. The evidence base is weak and caution is needed by policymakers regarding the introduction and implementation of alcohol warning labels. Limitations are discussed.

Originality/value: The review provides a timely up-to-date evaluation of the alcohol warning labels literature that has seen a recent resurgence but has not been critically reviewed.

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