26 November 2019 In Drinking Patterns

Most epidemiological research on alcohol as a risk factor is based on the assumption that outcomes are linked to pattern and level of alcohol exposure, where different beverages are converted into grams of ethanol. This review examines this basic assumption, that alcohol has the same impact, independent of beverage type.

We conducted a systematic search on comparative research of beverage-specific alcohol exposure and consequences. Research was divided by methodology (survey, case-control, cohort, time-series analyses, interventional research). Overall, many studies showed higher risks for spirits compared to beer or wine; however, most research was not controlled adequately for confounders such as patterns of drinking. While there is no conclusive evidence for spirits being associated with more harm, given the same pattern and level of alcohol exposure, some evidence supports for certain outcomes such as injuries and poisonings, a potential excess risk with spirits consumption due to rapid ethanol intake and intoxication.

Accordingly, encouraging people to opt for beverages with lower alcohol content via taxation strategies has the potential to reduce alcohol-attributable harm. This does not necessarily involve switching beverage type, but also can achieved within the same beverage category, by shifting from higher to lower concentration beverages.

25 January 2019 In Dementia

BACKGROUND: Alcohol use has been identified as a risk factor for dementia and cognitive decline. However, some patterns of drinking have been associated with beneficial effects.

METHODS AND RESULTS: To clarify the relationship between alcohol use and dementia, we conducted a scoping review based on a systematic search of systematic reviews published from January 2000 to October 2017 by using Medline, Embase, and PsycINFO. Overall, 28 systematic reviews were identified: 20 on the associations between the level of alcohol use and the incidence of cognitive impairment/dementia, six on the associations between dimensions of alcohol use and specific brain functions, and two on induced dementias. Although causality could not be established, light to moderate alcohol use in middle to late adulthood was associated with a decreased risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. Heavy alcohol use was associated with changes in brain structures, cognitive impairments, and an increased risk of all types of dementia.

CONCLUSION: Reducing heavy alcohol use may be an effective dementia prevention strategy.

01 February 2017 In Liver Disease

BACKGROUND: Previous epidemiological studies suggest that patients diagnosed with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) who drink light to moderate amounts of alcohol (up to ~30 g per day) have less severe histological lesions compared with nondrinkers. However, while the cross-sectional nature of current evidence precludes assessment of causality, cumulative lifetime-exposure of moderate alcohol consumption on histological outcomes has never been evaluated.

AIM: To overcome these limitations, a Mendelian randomisation study was performed using a validated genetic variant (rs1229984 A;G) in the alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH1B) gene as a proxy of long-term alcohol exposure.

METHODS: We first assessed whether the instrumental variant (rs1229984) was associated with the amount of alcohol consumption in our cohort. We further explored the association between the variant and histological outcomes; a sample of 466 individuals, including 266 patients with NAFLD confirmed by liver biopsy, was studied.

RESULTS: We found that carriers of the A-allele consumed significantly lower amounts of alcohol compared with noncarriers (2.3 +/- 5.3 vs. 8.18 +/- 21 g per day, mean +/- s.d., P = 0.03). The analysis of association with the disease severity showed that carriers of the A-allele had lower degree of histological steatosis (1.76 +/- 0.83 vs. 2.19 +/- 0.78, P = 0.03) and lower scores of lobular inflammation (0.54 +/- 0.65 vs. 0.95 +/- 0.92, P = 0.02) and NAFLD-Activity Score (2.9 +/- 1.4 vs. 3.7 +/- 1.4, P = 0.015) compared with noncarriers.

CONCLUSION: Mendelian randomisation analysis suggests no beneficial effect of moderate alcohol consumption on NAFLD disease severity.

01 February 2017 In General Health

Since the original Comparative Risk Assessment (CRA) for alcohol consumption as part of the Global Burden of Disease Study for 1990, there had been regular updates of CRAs for alcohol from the World Health Organization and/or the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. These studies have become more and more refined with respect to establishing causality between dimensions of alcohol consumption and different disease and mortality (cause of death) outcomes, refining risk relations, and improving the methodology for estimating exposure and alcohol-attributable burden. The present review will give an overview on the main results of the CRAs with respect to alcohol consumption as a risk factor, sketch out new trends and developments, and draw implications for future research and policy.

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