17 May 2016 In Cancer

OBJECTIVE: To test the hypothesis that postmenopausal women who increase their alcohol intake over a five year period have a higher risk of breast cancer and a lower risk of coronary heart disease compared with stable alcohol intake.

DESIGN: Prospective cohort study.

SETTING: Denmark, 1993-2012.

PARTICIPANTS: 21?523 postmenopausal women who participated in the Diet, Cancer, and Health Study in two consecutive examinations in 1993-98 and 1999-2003. Information on alcohol intake was obtained from questionnaires completed by participants.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Incidence of breast cancer, coronary heart disease, and all cause mortality during 11 years of follow-up. Information was obtained from the Danish Cancer Register, Danish Hospital Discharge Register, Danish Register of Causes of Death, and National Central Person Register. We estimated hazard ratios according to five year change in alcohol intake using Cox proportional hazards models.

RESULTS: During the study, 1054, 1750, and 2080 cases of breast cancer, coronary heart disease, and mortality occurred, respectively. Analyses modelling five year change in alcohol intake with cubic splines showed that women who increased their alcohol intake over the five year period had a higher risk of breast cancer and a lower risk of coronary heart disease than women with a stable alcohol intake. For instance, women who increased their alcohol intake by seven or 14 drinks per week (corresponding to one or two drinks more per day) had hazard ratios of breast cancer of 1.13 (95% confidence interval 1.03 to 1.23) and 1.29 (1.07 to 1.55), respectively, compared to women with stable intake, and adjusted for age, education, body mass index, smoking, Mediterranean diet score, parity, number of births, and hormone replacement therapy. For coronary heart disease, corresponding hazard ratios were 0.89 (0.81 to 0.97) and 0.78 (0.64 to 0.95), respectively, adjusted for age, education, body mass index, Mediterranean diet score, smoking, physical activity, hypertension, elevated cholesterol, and diabetes. Results among women who reduced their alcohol intake over the five year period were not significantly associated with risk of breast cancer or coronary heart disease. Analyses of all cause mortality showed that women who increased their alcohol intake from a high intake (=14 drinks per week) to an even higher intake had a higher mortality risk that women with a stable high intake.

CONCLUSION: In this study of postmenopausal women over a five year period, results support the hypotheses that alcohol intake is associated with increased risk of breast cancer and decreased risk of coronary heart disease.

21 April 2016 In General Health

There has been a call for reduced alcohol consumption among Americans in recent years as many drink above the recommended moderate drinking guidelines. Specifically, national public health goals include reducing the proportion of persons engaging in heavy episodic drinking and excessive drinking, as well as reducing the overall annual alcohol consumption. American dietary guidelines assert alcohol-attributed calories should be limited as alcohol is grouped into the allotment of calories associated with non-nutrient-dense foods. Based on current consumption trends, alcohol will likely remain a significant contributor to the overall caloric intake and diet of persons in the USA. This paper outlines the ramifications of alcohol as food/calories and also discusses evidence which highlights behaviors that people engage to offset consumption of alcohol-related calories. Implications include a discussion on how alcohol influences metabolic processes, results in an imbalanced diet, and exhibits a potential to lead to both malnutrition and weight gain.

22 March 2016 In Diabetes

OBJECTIVES: There is now good evidence that central obesity carries more health risks compared with total obesity assessed by body mass index (BMI). It has therefore been suggested that waist circumference (WC), a proxy for central obesity, should be included with BMI in a 'matrix' to categorise health risk. We wanted to compare how the adult UK population is classified using such a 'matrix' with that using another proxy for central obesity, waist-to-height ratio (WHtR), using a boundary value of 0.5. Further, we wished to compare cardiometabolic risk factors in adults with 'healthy' BMI divided according to whether they have WHtR below or above 0.5.

SETTING, PARTICIPANTS AND OUTCOME MEASURES: Recent data from 4 years (2008-2012) of the UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) (n=1453 adults) were used to cross-classify respondents on anthropometric indices. Regression was used to examine differences in levels of risk factors (triglycerides (TG), total cholesterol (TC), low-density lipoprotein (LDL), high-density lipoprotein (HDL), TC: HDL, glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c), fasting glucose, systolic (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP)) according to WHtR below and above 0.5, with adjustment for confounders (age, sex and BMI).

RESULTS: 35% of the group who were judged to be at 'no increased risk' using the 'matrix' had WHtR >/=0.5. The 'matrix' did not assign 'increased risk' to those with a 'healthy' BMI and 'high' waist circumference. However, our analysis showed that the group with 'healthy' BMI, and WHtR >/=0.5, had some significantly higher cardiometabolic risk factors compared to the group with 'healthy' BMI but WHtR below 0.5.

CONCLUSIONS: Use of a simple boundary value for WHtR (0.5) identifies more people at 'early health risk' than does a more complex 'matrix' using traditional boundary values for BMI and WC. WHtR may be a simpler and more predictive indicator of the 'early heath risks' associated with central obesity.

24 February 2016 In General Health

OBJECTIVE: To systematically review all the prospective cohort studies that have analysed the relation between adherence to a Mediterranean diet, mortality, and incidence of chronic diseases in a primary prevention setting. DESIGN: Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies.

DATA SOURCES: English and non-English publications in PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials from 1966 to 30 June 2008. Studies reviewed Studies that analysed prospectively the association between adherence to a Mediterranean diet, mortality, and incidence of diseases; 12 studies, with a total of 1 574,299 subjects followed for a time ranging from three to 18 years were included.

RESULTS: The cumulative analysis among eight cohorts (514,816 subjects and 33,576 deaths) evaluating overall mortality in relation to adherence to a Mediterranean diet showed that a two point increase in the adherence score was significantly associated with a reduced risk of mortality (pooled relative risk 0.91, 95% confidence interval 0.89 to 0.94). Likewise, the analyses showed a beneficial role for greater adherence to a Mediterranean diet on cardiovascular mortality (pooled relative risk 0.91, 0.87 to 0.95), incidence of or mortality from cancer (0.94, 0.92 to 0.96), and incidence of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease (0.87, 0.80 to 0.96).

CONCLUSIONS: Greater adherence to a Mediterranean diet is associated with a significant improvement in health status, as seen by a significant reduction in overall mortality (9%), mortality from cardiovascular diseases (9%), incidence of or mortality from cancer (6%), and incidence of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease (13%). These results seem to be clinically relevant for public health, in particular for encouraging a Mediterranean-like dietary pattern for primary prevention of major chronic diseases.

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