25 October 2016 In General Health

Drinking within recommended limits is highly prevalent in much of the world, and strong epidemiological associations exist between moderate alcohol consumption and risk of several major chronic diseases, including coronary heart disease, diabetes, and breast cancer. In many cases, plausible biological mediators for these associations have been identified in randomized trials, but gold standard evidence that moderate drinking causes or prevents any chronic disease remains elusive and important concerns about available evidence have been raised. Although long-term randomized trials to test the observed associations have been termed impossible, clinical investigators have now successfully completed randomized trials of complex nutritional interventions in a variety of settings, along with trials of alcohol consumption itself of up to 2 years duration. The successful completion of these trials suggests that objections to the execution of a full-scale, long-term clinical trial of moderate drinking on chronic disease are increasingly untenable. We present potential lessons learned for such a trial and discuss key features to maximize its feasibility and value.

25 October 2016 In Cardiovascular System

BACKGROUND: The effects of light to moderate alcohol consumption on cardiac mechanics remain poorly understood. The aim of this study was to investigate the dose-response relationship between alcohol consumption and left ventricular (LV) and left atrial (LA) function using myocardial deformation.

METHODS: In total 3,946 asymptomatic participants (mean age, 49.7 +/- 10.7 years; 65% men) were consecutively studied using comprehensive echocardiography and two-dimensional speckle-tracking in a cross-sectional, retrospective manner. Global LV longitudinal and circumferential strain and LA strain were assessed and related to habitual alcohol consumption pattern (fewer than one, one to six, or more than six drinks per week) before and after propensity matching.

RESULTS: With increasing weekly alcohol consumption, participants displayed greater LV eccentric remodeling, impaired diastolic function, and more attenuated global longitudinal strain, LA strain (adjusted coefficients, -1.07 [95% CI, -1.95 to -0.19] and -3.73 [95% CI, -5.36 to -2.11]), and early diastolic strain rates (adjusted coefficients, 0.07 [95% CI, 0.03-0.11] and 0.33 [95% CI, 0.24-0.42]) for one to six and more than six drinks per week, respectively (P < .05 for all) in a dose-response manner. Participants with recent alcohol abstinence displayed cardiac mechanics intermediate between those of nondrinkers and current drinkers. After propensity matching (n = 1,140), participants currently consuming more than one drink per week continued to have significantly attenuated global longitudinal strain and all LA mechanics compared with those consuming fewer than one drink per week (P < .05 for all).

CONCLUSIONS: Habitual alcohol consumption, even at light to moderate doses, is associated with both reduced LV and LA mechanics in a dose-dependent manner. Whether such observations are reversible or related to future atrial fibrillation deserves further study.

21 September 2016 In General Health

OBJECTIVES: To review critical contributions from the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) on alcohol consumption and health outcomes.

METHODS: We performed a narrative review of NHS (1980-2012) and NHS II (1989-2011) publications.

RESULTS: Using detailed information on self-reported alcohol drinking patterns obtained approximately every 4 years combined with extensive information on diet, lifestyle habits, and physician-diagnosed health conditions, NHS investigators have prospectively examined the risks and benefits associated with alcohol consumption. Moderate intake, defined as up to 1 drink a day, is associated with a lower risk of hypertension, myocardial infarction, stroke, sudden cardiac death, gallstones, cognitive decline, and all-cause mortality. However, even moderate intake places women at higher risk for breast cancer and bone fractures, and higher intake increases risk for colon polyps and colon cancer.

CONCLUSIONS: Regular alcohol intake has both risks and benefits. In analyses using repeated assessments of alcohol over time and deaths from all causes, women with low to moderate intake and regular frequency (> 3 days/week) had the lowest risk of mortality compared with abstainers and women who consumed substantially more than 1 drink per day.

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.

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