28 August 2015 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

During the 1970s, the total alcohol consumption model (TCM) and the public health approach it inspired shifted the focus of control policies from individuals to the entire population. From the late 1990s, sociological studies challenged TCM and indicated the advantages of the harm-reduction approach, which distinguishes between low- and high-risk patterns of use, and suggested the adoption of a drinking patterns paradigm, focussing on the relationship between type, ways and contexts of drinking and alcohol-related problems. TCM nonetheless remains influential in international discussions of alcohol policy, and sociological studies are largely ignored by the most influential stakeholders in the field. Using Italy as an international comparative case study, the paper challenges the universal application of the public health approach in alcohol policy. It offers insights into support for the drinking patterns paradigm and argues for an increased contribution from the social sciences to understanding and addressing the alcohol issue.

28 August 2015 In Cancer

OBJECTIVES: To quantify risk of overall cancer across all levels of alcohol consumption among women and men separately, with a focus on light to moderate drinking and never smokers; and assess the influence of drinking patterns on overall cancer risk.

DESIGN: Two prospective cohort studies.

SETTING: Health professionals in the United States.

PARTICIPANTS: 88 084 women and 47 881 men participating in the Nurses' Health Study (from 1980) and Health Professionals Follow-up Study (from 1986), followed until 2010.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Relative risks of cancer.

RESULTS: 19 269 and 7571 (excluding non-advanced prostate cancers) incident cancers were documented among women and men, respectively, over 3 144 853 person years. Compared with non-drinkers, light to moderate drinkers had relative risks of total cancer of 1.02 (95% confidence interval 0.98 to 1.06) and 1.04 (1.00 to 1.09; Ptrend=0.12) for alcohol intake of 0.1-4.9 and 5-14.9 g/day among women, respectively. Corresponding values for men were 1.03 (0.96 to 1.11), 1.05 (0.97 to 1.12), and 1.06 (0.98 to 1.15; Ptrend=0.31) for alcohol intake of 0.1-4.9, 5-14.9, and 15-29.9 g/day, respectively. Associations for light to moderate drinking and total cancer were similar among ever or never smokers, although alcohol consumption above moderate levels (in particular >/=30 g/day) was more strongly associated with risk of total cancer among ever smokers than never smokers. For a priori defined alcohol related cancers in men, risk was not appreciably increased for light and moderate drinkers who never smoked (Ptrend=0.18). However, for women, even an alcohol consumption of 5-14.9 g/day was associated with increased risk of alcohol related cancer (relative risk 1.13 (95% confidence interval 1.06 to 1.20)), driven by breast cancer. More frequent and heavy episodic drinking was not further associated with risk of total cancer after adjusting for total alcohol intake.

CONCLUSION: Light to moderate drinking is associated with minimally increased risk of overall cancer. For men who have never smoked, risk of alcohol related cancers is not appreciably increased for light and moderate drinking (up to two drinks per day). However, for women who have never smoked, risk of alcohol related cancers (mainly breast cancer) increases even within the range of up to one alcoholic drink a day.

08 April 2015 In General Health

PURPOSE: To investigate alcohol drinking status and the association between drinking patterns and visual impairment in an adult population in northern China.

METHODS: Cluster sampling was used to select samples. The protocol consisted of an interview, pilot study, visual acuity (VA) testing and a clinical examination. Visual impairment was defined as presenting VA worse than 20/60 in any eye. Drinking patterns included drinking quantity (standard drinks per week) and frequency (drinking days in the past week).

RESULTS: Information on alcohol consumption was obtained from 8445 subjects, 963 (11.4%) of whom reported consuming alcohol. In multivariate analysis, alcohol consumption was significantly associated with older age (p < 0.001), male sex (p < 0.001), and higher education level (p < 0.01). Heavy intake (>14 drinks/week) was associated with higher odds of visual impairment. However, moderate intake (>1-14 drinks/week) was significantly associated with lower odds (adjusted odds ratio, OR, 0.7, 95% confidence interval, CI, 0.5-1.0) of visual impairment (p = 0.03). Higher drinking frequency was significantly associated with higher odds of visual impairment. Multivariate analysis showed that older age, male sex, and higher education level were associated with visual impairment among current drinkers. Age- and sex-adjusted ORs for the association of cataract and alcohol intake showed that higher alcohol consumption was not significantly associated with an increased prevalence of cataract (OR 1.2, 95% CI 0.4-3.6), whereas light and moderate alcohol consumption appeared to reduce incidence of cataract.

CONCLUSION: Drinking patterns were associated with visual impairment. Heavy intake had negative effects on distance vision; meanwhile, moderate intake had a positive effect on distance vision.

08 April 2015 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

WHO statistics indicate that half the world's population does not drink alcohol. With a Western outlook this fact is often overlooked.

FINDINGS: The article explores the global drinking patterns focusing on non-drinking and the global forces that contribute towards change. The large segment of non-drinking population is beneficial for public health but it is also seen as a great potential for the international alcoholic beverage industry.

CONCLUSION: The forces of globalization towards conformity and a global mono-culture deprived of cultural diversity also affects non-drinking populations, to the detriment of public health.

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