29 October 2018 In Cancer

Epidemiological studies have been used to show associations between modifiable lifestyle habits and the incidence of breast cancer. Among such factors, a history of alcohol use has been reported in multiple studies and meta-analyses over the past decades. However, associative epidemiological studies that were interpreted as evidence that even moderate alcohol consumption increases breast cancer incidence have been controversial. In this review, we consider the literature on the relationship between moderate or heavy alcohol use, both in possible biological mechanisms and in variations in susceptibility due to genetic or epigenetic factors. We argue that there is a need to incorporate additional approaches to move beyond the associations that are reported in traditional epidemiological analyses and incorporate information on molecular pathologic signatures as a requirement to posit causal inferences. In particular, we point to the efforts of the transdisciplinary field of molecular pathological epidemiology (MPE) to evaluate possible causal relationships, if any, of alcohol consumption and breast cancer. A wider application of the principles of MPE to this field would constitute a giant step that could enhance our understanding of breast cancer and multiple modifiable risk factors, a step that would be particularly suited to the era of "personalized medicine".

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.

27 July 2018 In Cardiovascular System

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the association between alcohol consumption (at baseline and over lifetime) and non-fatal and fatal coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke.

DESIGN: Multicentre case-cohort study.

SETTING: A study of cardiovascular disease (CVD) determinants within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and nutrition cohort (EPIC-CVD) from eight European countries.

PARTICIPANTS: 32 549 participants without baseline CVD, comprised of incident CVD cases and a subcohort for comparison.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Non-fatal and fatal CHD and stroke (including ischaemic and haemorrhagic stroke).

RESULTS: There were 9307 non-fatal CHD events, 1699 fatal CHD, 5855 non-fatal stroke, and 733 fatal stroke. Baseline alcohol intake was inversely associated with non-fatal CHD, with a hazard ratio of 0.94 (95% confidence interval 0.92 to 0.96) per 12 g/day higher intake. There was a J shaped association between baseline alcohol intake and risk of fatal CHD. The hazard ratios were 0.83 (0.70 to 0.98), 0.65 (0.53 to 0.81), and 0.82 (0.65 to 1.03) for categories 5.0-14.9 g/day, 15.0-29.9 g/day, and 30.0-59.9 g/day of total alcohol intake, respectively, compared with 0.1-4.9 g/day. In contrast, hazard ratios for non-fatal and fatal stroke risk were 1.04 (1.02 to 1.07), and 1.05 (0.98 to 1.13) per 12 g/day increase in baseline alcohol intake, respectively, including broadly similar findings for ischaemic and haemorrhagic stroke. Associations with cardiovascular outcomes were broadly similar with average lifetime alcohol consumption as for baseline alcohol intake, and across the eight countries studied. There was no strong evidence for interactions of alcohol consumption with smoking status on the risk of CVD events.

CONCLUSIONS: Alcohol intake was inversely associated with non-fatal CHD risk but positively associated with the risk of different stroke subtypes. This highlights the opposing associations of alcohol intake with different CVD types and strengthens the evidence for policies to reduce alcohol consumption.

27 July 2018 In Cancer
BACKGROUND: While current research is largely consistent as to the harms of heavy drinking in terms of both cancer incidence and mortality, there are disparate messages regarding the safety of light-moderate alcohol consumption, which may confuse public health messages. We aimed to evaluate the association between average lifetime alcohol intakes and risk of both cancer incidence and mortality. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We report a population-based cohort study using data from 99,654 adults (68.7% female), aged 55-74 years, participating in the U.S. Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial. Cox proportional hazards models assessed the risk of overall and cause-specific mortality, cancer incidence (excluding nonmelanoma skin cancer), and combined risk of cancer and death across categories of self-reported average lifetime alcohol intakes, with adjustment for potential confounders. During 836,740 person-years of follow-up (median 8.9 years), 9,599 deaths and 12,763 primary cancers occurred. Positive linear associations were observed between lifetime alcohol consumption and cancer-related mortality and total cancer incidence. J-shaped associations were observed between average lifetime alcohol consumption and overall mortality, cardiovascular-related mortality, and combined risk of death or cancer. In comparison to lifetime light alcohol drinkers (1-3 drinks per week), lifetime never or infrequent drinkers (<1 drink/week), as well as heavy (2-<3 drinks/day) and very heavy drinkers (3+ drinks/day) had increased overall mortality and combined risk of cancer or death. Corresponding hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for combined risk of cancer or death, respectively, were 1.09 (1.01-1.13) for never drinkers, 1.08 (1.03-1.13) for infrequent drinkers, 1.10 (1.02-1.18) for heavy drinkers, and 1.21 (1.13-1.30) for very heavy drinkers. This analysis is limited to older adults, and residual confounding by socioeconomic factors is possible. CONCLUSIONS: The study supports a J-shaped association between alcohol and mortality in older adults, which remains after adjustment for cancer risk. The results indicate that intakes below 1 drink per day were associated with the lowest risk of death. TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT00339495 (ClinicalTrials.gov)
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