27 July 2018 In Cancer

BACKGROUND: Individual participant data pooled analyses allow access to non-published data and statistical reanalyses based on more homogeneous criteria than meta-analyses based on systematic reviews. We quantified the impact of publication-related biases and heterogeneity in data analysis and presentation in summary estimates of the association between alcohol drinking and gastric cancer.

METHODS: We compared estimates obtained from conventional meta-analyses, using only data available in published reports from studies that take part in the Stomach Cancer Pooling (StoP) Project, with individual participant data pooled analyses including the same studies.

RESULTS: A total of 22 studies from the StoP Project assessed the relation between alcohol intake and gastric cancer, 19 had specific data for levels of consumption and 18 according to cancer location; published reports addressing these associations were available from 18, 5 and 5 studies, respectively. The summary odds ratios [OR, (95%CI)] estimate obtained with published data for drinkers vs. non-drinkers was 10% higher than the one obtained with individual StoP data [18 vs. 22 studies: 1.21 (1.07-1.36) vs. 1.10 (0.99-1.23)] and more heterogeneous (I(2): 63.6% vs 54.4%). In general, published data yielded less precise summary estimates (standard errors up to 2.6 times higher). Funnel plot analysis suggested publication bias.

CONCLUSION: Meta-analyses of the association between alcohol drinking and gastric cancer tended to overestimate the magnitude of the effects, possibly due to publication bias. Additionally, individual participant data pooled analyses yielded more precise estimates for different levels of exposure or cancer subtypes.

18 May 2018 In General Health

BACKGROUND: Low-risk limits recommended for alcohol consumption vary substantially across different national guidelines. To define thresholds associated with lowest risk for all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease, we studied individual-participant data from 599 912 current drinkers without previous cardiovascular disease.

METHODS: We did a combined analysis of individual-participant data from three large-scale data sources in 19 high-income countries (the Emerging Risk Factors Collaboration, EPIC-CVD, and the UK Biobank). We characterised dose-response associations and calculated hazard ratios (HRs) per 100 g per week of alcohol (12.5 units per week) across 83 prospective studies, adjusting at least for study or centre, age, sex, smoking, and diabetes. To be eligible for the analysis, participants had to have information recorded about their alcohol consumption amount and status (ie, non-drinker vs current drinker), plus age, sex, history of diabetes and smoking status, at least 1 year of follow-up after baseline, and no baseline history of cardiovascular disease. The main analyses focused on current drinkers, whose baseline alcohol consumption was categorised into eight predefined groups according to the amount in grams consumed per week. We assessed alcohol consumption in relation to all-cause mortality, total cardiovascular disease, and several cardiovascular disease subtypes. We corrected HRs for estimated long-term variability in alcohol consumption using 152 640 serial alcohol assessments obtained some years apart (median interval 5.6 years [5th-95th percentile 1.04-13.5]) from 71 011 participants from 37 studies.

FINDINGS: In the 599 912 current drinkers included in the analysis, we recorded 40 310 deaths and 39 018 incident cardiovascular disease events during 5.4 million person-years of follow-up. For all-cause mortality, we recorded a positive and curvilinear association with the level of alcohol consumption, with the minimum mortality risk around or below 100 g per week. Alcohol consumption was roughly linearly associated with a higher risk of stroke (HR per 100 g per week higher consumption 1.14, 95% CI, 1.10-1.17), coronary disease excluding myocardial infarction (1.06, 1.00-1.11), heart failure (1.09, 1.03-1.15), fatal hypertensive disease (1.24, 1.15-1.33); and fatal aortic aneurysm (1.15, 1.03-1.28). By contrast, increased alcohol consumption was log-linearly associated with a lower risk of myocardial infarction (HR 0.94, 0.91-0.97). In comparison to those who reported drinking >0-100-200-350 g per week had lower life expectancy at age 40 years of approximately 6 months, 1-2 years, or 4-5 years, respectively.

INTERPRETATION: In current drinkers of alcohol in high-income countries, the threshold for lowest risk of all-cause mortality was about 100 g/week. For cardiovascular disease subtypes other than myocardial infarction, there were no clear risk thresholds below which lower alcohol consumption stopped being associated with lower disease risk. These data support limits for alcohol consumption that are lower than those recommended in most current guidelines.

FUNDING: UK Medical Research Council, British Heart Foundation, National Institute for Health Research, European Union Framework 7, and European Research Council.

03 May 2018 In Pregnant Women
Women who drink light-to-moderately during pregnancy have been observed to have lower risk of unfavourable pregnancy outcomes than abstainers. This has been suggested to be a result of bias. In a pooled sample, including 193 747 live-born singletons from nine European cohorts, we examined the associations between light-to-moderate drinking and preterm birth, birth weight, and small-for-gestational age in term born children (term SGA). To address potential sources of bias, we compared the associations from the total sample with a sub-sample restricted to first-time pregnant women who conceived within six months of trying, and examined whether the associations varied across calendar time. In the total sample, drinking up to around six drinks per week as compared to abstaining was associated with lower risk of preterm birth, whereas no significant associations were found for birth weight or term SGA. Drinking six or more drinks per week was associated with lower birth weight and higher risk of term SGA, but no increased risk of preterm birth. The analyses restricted to women without reproductive experience revealed similar results. Before 2000 approximately half of pregnant women drank alcohol. This decreased to 39% in 2000-2004, and 14% in 2005-2011. Before 2000, every additional drink was associated with reduced mean birth weight, whereas in 2005-2011, the mean birth weight increased with increasing intake. The period-specific associations between low-to-moderate drinking and birth weight, which also were observed for term SGA, are indicative of bias. It is impossible to distinguish if the bias is attributable to unmeasured confounding, which change over time or cohort heterogeneity
03 May 2018 In Cancer
An association between heavy alcohol drinking and gastric cancer risk has been recently reported, but the issue is still open to discussion and quantification. We investigated the role of alcohol drinking on gastric cancer risk in the "Stomach cancer Pooling (StoP) Project," a consortium of epidemiological studies. A total of 9,669 cases and 25,336 controls from 20 studies from Europe, Asia and North America were included. We estimated summary odds-ratios (ORs) and the corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) by pooling study-specific ORs using random-effects meta-regression models. Compared with abstainers, drinkers of up to 4 drinks/day of alcohol had no increase in gastric cancer risk, while the ORs were 1.26 (95% CI, 1.08-1.48) for heavy (>4 to 6 drinks/day) and 1.48 (95% CI 1.29-1.70) for very heavy (>6 drinks/day) drinkers. The risk for drinkers of >4 drinks/day was higher in never smokers (OR 1.87, 95% CI 1.35-2.58) as compared with current smokers (OR 1.14, 95% CI 0.93-1.40). Somewhat stronger associations emerged with heavy drinking in cardia (OR 1.61, 95% CI 1.11-2.34) than in non-cardia (OR 1.28, 95% CI 1.13-1.45) gastric cancers, and in intestinal-type (OR 1.54, 95% CI 1.20-1.97) than in diffuse-type (OR 1.29, 95% CI 1.05-1.58) cancers. The association was similar in strata of H. pylori infected (OR = 1.52, 95% CI 1.16-2.00) and noninfected subjects (OR = 1.69, 95% CI 0.95-3.01). Our collaborative pooled-analysis provides definite, more precise quantitative evidence than previously available of an association between heavy alcohol drinking and gastric cancer risk
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