26 February 2019 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

Low-risk thresholds for alcohol use differ across various national guidelines. To assess the novel WHO risk drinking levels in light of alcohol-sensitive common laboratory tests, we analysed biomarkers of liver status, inflammation and lipid profiles from a population-based survey of individuals classified to abstainers and different WHO risk drinking levels defined in terms of mean alcohol consumption per day. The study included 22,327 participants aged 25-74 years from the National FINRISK Study. Data on alcohol use, health status, diet, body weight and lifestyle (smoking, coffee consumption and physical activity) were recorded from structured interviews. Alcohol data from self-reports covering the past 12 months were used to categorize the participants into subgroups of abstainers and WHO risk drinking categories representing low, moderate, high and very high risk drinkers. Serum liver enzymes (GGT, ALT), C-reactive protein (CRP) and lipid profiles were measured using standard laboratory techniques. Alcohol risk category was roughly linearly related with the occurrence of elevated values for GGT, ALT and CRP. Alcohol drinking also significantly influenced the incidence of abnormalities in serum lipids. Significantly higher odds for abnormal GGT, ALT and altered lipid profiles remained in alcohol drinkers even after adjustment for age, waist circumference, physical inactivity, smoking and coffee consumption. A more systematic use of laboratory tests during treatment of individuals classified to WHO risk drinking categories may improve the assessment of alcohol-related health risks. Follow-ups of biomarker responses may also prove to be useful in health interventions aimed at reducing alcohol consumption.

25 January 2019 In Cardiovascular System

Coronary artery calcification (CAC) is associated with atherosclerotic complications. However, elevated CAC may not always imply a worse prognosis. Herein, we report the clinical evolution of long-term red wine (RW) drinkers in relation to CAC. We followed 200 healthy male habitual RW drinkers and compared them to 154 abstainers for a period of 5.5 years. The initial evaluation included coronary computed tomography angiography (CTA), clinical, demographics, and laboratory data. CAC was quantified by the Agatston score. The follow-up process was conducted by telephone calls and/or hospital record review. The composite end-point of total death, acute myocardial infarction (AMI), or coronary revascularization (or major adverse cardiac event - MACE) was assessed. The RW drinkers ingested 28.9+/-15 g of alcohol/day for 23.4+/-12.3 years. They had higher high-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoprotein, but lower C-reactive protein than abstainers. Age, total cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, and liver enzymes were similar. History of diabetes was lower among drinkers, but other risk factors were similar. However, drinkers had higher CAC than abstainers; the mean value was 131.5+/-362 in drinkers vs 40.5+/-320 in abstainers (P<0.001). The median and interquartile range were 15 (0.0-131.5) in RW drinkers and 1 (0.0-40.5) in abstainers (P=0.003). During the follow-up, MACE was significantly lower in drinkers than in abstainers, despite their higher CAC. The difference was driven mainly by AMI (0 vs 6; P<0.03). Greater CAC values in this setting did not predict worse prognosis. A possible underlying mechanism is lesion calcification, which leads to plaque stabilization and less clinical events.

22 June 2017 In General Health

OBJECTIVE: Moderate alcohol use has been broadly associated with health benefits among older adults, including improved mood. Aims of this study were to evaluate the relationship of moderate alcohol use and depressive symptomatology over a period of eight years, and to examine inflammation, indicated by C-reactive protein (CRP), as one mechanism by which this relationship functions.

METHODS: The study included 3177 community-dwelling participants over the age of 65 in 2008 drawn from the Health and Retirement Study. Data from the 2006, 2008, 2012, and 2014 waves were used. Alcohol use was measured via self-report and was dichotomized as abstinent (0 drinks per week) and moderate (1-14 drinks per week). Inflammation was measured using CRP, which was collected using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and provided in units of mug/mL. Control variables included gender, age, body mass index (BMI), and medical burden.

RESULTS: A latent growth curve model with full information maximum likelihood was used, with results revealing that moderate drinkers endorsed fewer depressive symptoms at baseline and a steeper rate of change over time. Abstinent respondents' depressive symptomatology was characterized by a more linear change rate. Further, moderate drinkers had lower CRP levels suggesting that inflammation partially mediates the relationship between moderate alcohol use and depressive symptomatology.

CONCLUSIONS: Moderate alcohol use predicts fewer depressive symptoms among older adults. This relationship is partially moderated by CRP and is eroded by the passage of time. Future research should identify additional mechanisms relating alcohol to positive health outcomes and less depressive symptomatology. Copyright (c) 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd

26 April 2017 In General Health

BACKGROUND: In cross-sectional studies and short-term clinical trials, it has been suggested that there is a positive dose-response relation between alcohol consumption and HDL concentrations. However, prospective data have been limited.

OBJECTIVE: We sought to determine the association between total alcohol intake, the type of alcohol-containing beverage, and the 6-y (2006-2012) longitudinal change in HDL-cholesterol concentrations in a community-based cohort.

DESIGN: A total of 71,379 Chinese adults (mean age: 50 y) who were free of cardiovascular diseases and cancer and did not use cholesterol-lowering agents during follow-up were included in the study. Alcohol intake was assessed via a questionnaire in 2006 (baseline), and participants were classified into the following categories of alcohol consumption: never, past, light (women: 0-0.4 servings/d; men: 0-0.9 servings/d), moderate (women: 0.5-1.0 servings/d; men: 1-2 servings/d), and heavy (women: >1.0 servings/d; men: >2 servings/d). HDL-cholesterol concentrations were measured in 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012. We used generalized estimating equation models to examine the associations between baseline alcohol intake and the change in HDL-cholesterol concentrations with adjustment for age, sex, smoking, physical activity, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, liver function, and C-reactive protein concentrations.

RESULTS: An umbrella-shaped association was observed between total alcohol consumption and changes in HDL-cholesterol concentrations. Compared with never drinkers, past, light, moderate, and heavy drinkers experienced slower decreases in HDL cholesterol of 0.012 mmol . L-1 . y-1 (95% CI: 0.008, 0.016 mmol . L-1 . y-1), 0.013 mmol . L-1 . y-1 (95% CI: 0.010, 0.016 mmol . L-1 . y-1), 0.017 mmol . L-1 . y-1 (95% CI: 0.009, 0.025 mmol . L-1 . y-1), and 0.008 mmol . L-1 . y-1 (95% CI: 0.005, 0.011 mmol . L-1 . y-1), respectively (P < 0.0001 for all), after adjustment for potential confounders. Moderate alcohol consumption was associated with the slowest increase in total-cholesterol:HDL-cholesterol and triglyceride: HDL-cholesterol ratios. We observed a similar association between hard-liquor consumption and the HDL-cholesterol change. In contrast, greater beer consumption was associated with slower HDL-cholesterol decreases in a dose-response manner.

CONCLUSION: Moderate alcohol consumption was associated with slower HDL-cholesterol decreases; however, the type of alcoholic beverage had differential effects on the change in the HDL-cholesterol concentration.

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