05 December 2018 In General Health

BACKGROUND: Problem drinking carries significant health burdens, including an increased risk of hypertension. The effect of chronic alcohol intake on blood pressure (BP) in women is understudied and poorly understood.

OBJECTIVES: We sought to examine the relationships between drinking habits and BP in hypertensive women.

METHODS: We analyzed drinking habits in 113 women followed in the Brigham and Women's Hospital Hypertension Clinic for at least one year.

RESULTS: Among these women with well-controlled hypertension, baseline diastolic BP was significantly lower in moderate drinkers compared with women who rarely or never drank. Changes in both systolic and diastolic BP over 12 months showed a significant negative association with changes in percent drinking days. In contrast, there was a trend toward higher baseline systolic BP among those women who consumed more drinks per drinking day.

CONCLUSIONS: Among these women with controlled hypertension, our data failed to demonstrate an association between drinking beyond recommended limits and higher disease burden. These findings parallel the widely reported difference between drinking frequency, associated with a host of positive health outcomes, and drinking intensity, associated with negative outcomes. Novel to this report is an observed reduction in blood pressure over the one-year follow-up period accompanying an increased drinking frequency in treated hypertensive women. Cautions include the suggestion that a greater number of drinks per drinking day was associated with higher baseline pressure. These data imply that drinking within sensible limits has no negative impact on chronic hypertension. In fact, for women with well-controlled hypertension, such a habit may impart benefit.

29 October 2018 In Cardiovascular System

BACKGROUND: Alcohol-induced cardiotoxicity is incompletely understood. Specifically, the long-term impact of alcohol use on ventricular remodeling or dysfunction, its modulators, and effect thresholds among young adults remain controversial.

OBJECTIVES: The authors sought to evaluate a potential relationship between alcohol intake and cardiac remodeling, assessed by echocardiography, over 20 years of follow-up.

METHODS: Among the CARDIA (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults) study cohort, the authors studied all subjects without baseline heart disorders who provided adequate information on their drinking habits and underwent echocardiographic evaluation at years 5 and 25 of the study. The echocardiographic outcomes were left ventricular (LV) ejection fraction, indexed LV end-diastolic volume and LV mass, and left atrial diameter. Participants were grouped according to their weighted-average weekly drinking habits. An additional analysis used the estimated cumulative alcohol consumption. Regression models and multivariable fractional polynomials were used to evaluate the association between alcohol consumption and the outcomes.

RESULTS: Among the 2,368 participants, alcohol consumption was an independent predictor of higher indexed LV mass (p = 0.014) and indexed LV end-diastolic volume (p = 0.037), regardless of sex. No significant relationship between alcohol intake and LV ejection fraction was found. Drinking predominantly wine was associated with less cardiac remodeling and there was a nonsignificant trend for a harmful effect of binge drinking.

CONCLUSIONS: After 20 years of follow-up, alcohol intake was associated with adverse cardiac remodeling, although it was not related with LV systolic dysfunction in this initially healthy young cohort. Our results also suggest that drinking predominantly wine associates with less deleterious findings in cardiac structure.

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 Pregnant Women

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Although prenatal alcohol and nicotine exposure are associated with reduced cognition in children, associations between consumption of alcohol during lactation and cognition have not been examined. We aimed to examine whether drinking or smoking while breastfeeding lowers children's cognitive scores. We hypothesized that increased drinking or smoking would be associated with dose-dependent cognitive reductions.

METHODS: Data were sourced from Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. Participants were 5107 Australian infants recruited in 2004 and assessed every 2 years. Multivariable linear regression analyses assessed relationships between drinking and smoking habits of breastfeeding mothers and children's Matrix Reasoning, Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-Third Edition and Who Am I? scores at later waves.

RESULTS: Increased or riskier wave 1 maternal alcohol consumption was associated with reductions in Matrix Reasoning scores at age 6 to 7 years in children who had been breastfed (B = -0.11; SE = 0.03; 95% confidence interval: -0.18 to -0.04; P = .01). This relationship was not evident in infants who had never breastfed (B = -0.02; SE = 0.10; 95% confidence interval = -0.20 to 0.17; P = .87). Smoking during lactation was not associated with any outcome variable.

CONCLUSIONS: Exposing infants to alcohol through breastmilk may cause dose-dependent reductions in their cognitive abilities. This reduction was observed at age 6 to 7 years but was not sustained at age 10 to 11 years. Although the relationship is small, it may be clinically significant when mothers consume alcohol regularly or binge drink. Further analyses will assess relationships between alcohol consumption or tobacco smoking during lactation and academic, developmental, physical, and behavioral outcomes in children.

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