16 October 2015 In Cancer

OBJECTIVE: To estimate the proportion and numbers of cancers occurring in Australia in 2010 that are attributable to alcohol consumption.

METHODS: We estimated the population attributable fraction (PAF) of cancers causally associated with alcohol consumption using standard formulae incorporating prevalence of alcohol consumption and relative risks associated with consumption and cancer. We also estimated the proportion change in cancer incidence (potential impact fraction [PIF]) that might have occurred under the hypothetical scenario that an intervention reduced alcohol consumption, so that no-one drank >2 drinks/day.

RESULTS: An estimated 3,208 cancers (2.8% of all cancers) occurring in Australian adults in 2010 could be attributed to alcohol consumption. The greatest numbers were for cancers of the colon (868) and female breast cancer (830). The highest PAFs were for squamous cell carcinomas of the oral cavity/pharynx (31%) and oesophagus (25%). The incidence of alcohol-associated cancer types could have been reduced by 1,442 cases (4.3%) - from 33,537 to 32,083 - if no Australian adult consumed >2 drinks/day.

CONCLUSIONS: More than 3,000 cancers were attributable to alcohol consumption and thus were potentially preventable.

IMPLICATIONS: Strategies that limit alcohol consumption to guideline levels could prevent a large number of cancers in Australian adults.

17 September 2015 In Cancer

BACKGROUND: Results from several cohort and case-control studies suggest a protective association between current alcohol intake and risk of thyroid carcinoma, but the epidemiological evidence is not completely consistent and several questions remain unanswered.

METHODS: The association between alcohol consumption at recruitment and over the lifetime and risk of differentiated thyroid carcinoma was examined in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Among 477 263 eligible participants (70% women), 556 (90% women) were diagnosed with differentiated thyroid carcinoma over a mean follow-up of 11 years. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using multivariable Cox proportional hazards models.

RESULTS: Compared with participants consuming 0.1-4.9 g of alcohol per day at recruitment, participants consuming 15 or more grams (approximately 1-1.5 drinks) had a 23% lower risk of differentiated thyroid carcinoma (HR=0.77; 95% CI=0.60-0.98). These findings did not differ greatly when analyses were conducted for lifetime alcohol consumption, although the risk estimates were attenuated and not statistically significant anymore. Similar results were observed by type of alcoholic beverage, by differentiated thyroid carcinoma histology or according to age, sex, smoking status, body mass index and diabetes.

CONCLUSIONS: Our study provides some support to the hypothesis that moderate alcohol consumption may be associated with a lower risk of papillary and follicular thyroid carcinomas.

28 August 2015 In General Health

BACKGROUND: There is limited research on awareness of alcohol warning labels and their effects. The current study examined the awareness of the Australian voluntary warning labels, the 'Get the facts' logo (a component of current warning labels) that directs consumers to an industry-designed informational website, and whether alcohol consumers visited this website.

METHODS: Participants aged 18-45 (unweighted n = 561; mean age = 33.6 years) completed an online survey assessing alcohol consumption patterns, awareness of the 'Get the facts' logo and warning labels, and use of the website.

RESULTS: No participants recalled the 'Get the facts' logo, and the recall rate of warning labels was 16 % at best. A quarter of participants recognised the 'Get the facts' logo, and awareness of the warning labels ranged from 13.1-37.9 %. Overall, only 7.3 % of respondents had visited the website. Multivariable logistic regression models indicated that younger drinkers, increased frequency of binge drinking, consuming alcohol directly from the bottle or can, and support for warning labels were significantly, positively associated with awareness of the logo and warning labels. While an increased frequency of binge drinking, consuming alcohol directly from the container, support for warning labels, and recognition of the 'Get the facts' logo increased the odds of visiting the website.

CONCLUSIONS: Within this sample, recall of the current, voluntary warning labels on Australian alcohol products was non-existent, overall awareness was low, and few people reported visiting the DrinkWise website. It appears that current warning labels fail to effectively transmit health messages to the general public.

28 August 2015 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

BACKGROUND: Sipping alcohol is common during early adolescence, but research has ignored the distinction between sipping and drinking whole alcohol beverages, conflating the 2, or else simply classifying "sippers" as abstainers. Research has not addressed whether sippers are different to drinkers, in relation to variables known to be associated with adolescent alcohol consumption, or considered whether sipping and drinking behaviors may have quite different associations.

METHODS: Parent-child dyads (N = 1,823) were recruited in 3 states from Australian grade 7 classes. Multinomial logistic analyses compared adolescents who had only had a sip/taste of alcohol (sippers) with adolescents who had consumed at least a whole drink (drinkers) in the past 6 months. The multivariate model assessed a broad range of demographics, parenting practices, peer influences, and adolescent externalizing and internalizing behaviors, and controlled for school clustering.

RESULTS: Compared to drinkers, sippers were less likely to come from 1-parent households (odds ratio [OR] = 0.59, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.35 to 0.98); less likely to come from low-socioeconomic status (SES) households (OR = 0.54, 95% CI: 0.31 to 0.94); more likely to come from families where parents provide stricter alcohol-specific rules (OR = 1.21, 95% CI: 1.11 to 1.32), stricter monitoring of the child's activities (OR = 1.10, 95% CI: 1.04 to 1.16), more consistent parenting practices (OR = 1.13, 95% CI: 1.05 to 1.23), and more positive family relationships (OR = 1.56, 95% CI: 1.02 to 2.43); and report having fewer substance-using peers (OR = 0.80, 95% CI: 0.70 to 0.91) and greater peer disapproval of any substance use (OR = 1.30, 95% CI: 1.19 to 1.42). After adjustment for confounders, the associations with household composition and SES were no longer significant, but the familial and peer associations remained significant in the multivariate analysis, chi2 (40) = 1,493.06, p < 0.001.

CONCLUSIONS: Sipping alcohol has different associations with known predictors of adolescent alcohol use than drinking whole beverages, and sipping may be a distinct or separable behavior. Future research should better define quantities of early consumption and assess the relationship between early sipping and drinking on long-term outcomes separately.

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